By Soyra Gune
You could argue, as Cairoscene does, that ballet in some aspects is very similar to the city of Cairo.
Two directors cum photographers, Mohamed Taher and Ahmed Fathy have taken to the streets of Cairo to create a new image of the city by taking scenic photographs of ballerinas against urban backdrops and posting these images on their Instagram page, Ballerinas of Cairo.
The two were inspired by The Ballerina Project which was made over the span of 17 years by New York photographer, Dana Shitagi. Taher emphasised in an interview with Egypt Independent that the project was not meant to bring back tourism to Cairo as the photographs were taken in streets far away from the well-known tourist destinations.
Roshan Elshormolessy, one of the ballerinas involved in the project, was pleasantly surprised by the sheer volume of responses they’ve received. “Everyone was surprised. They began to share the photos and give us very good and positive feedback.”, she told BBC.
The aim of the project is to bring together the photography and dance communities of Cairo according to their Instagram page but the BBC believes it aims to do more, describing it as a “project to reclaim the streets for women”.
This page thrives in a country where the art of ballet is frowned upon by conservatives. In 2013, a member of the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party, Gamal Hamed said, “[Ballet] is the art of nudity, spreading immorality and obscenity among people.” He called for the banning of the dance as dancing is not allowed according to Islam.
However, Taher told Egypt Independent that it was “to let people explore the beauty of Cairo from a different perspective”.