In December 2012 I travelled to Egypt to participate in two very different dance programs. I love the Middle East and have visited many times. This was my second visit to Egypt and I was extremely excited.
At the time there was a political situation in Egypt, and some dancers decided not to travel there. I did my research and, although I cancelled a scuba diving trip off the Sinai Peninsula, I kept my plans to attend the dance programs and felt safe during the time I was there.
Sphinx Festival 2012 – Red Sea Odyssey
The first program I participated in was the Sphinx Festival held at the beautiful coastal resort town of El Gouna, five hours drive from Cairo. Here the sun was shining every day, the water was turquoise blue and the sand was a dazzling white.
Keti Sharif organised the festival with the theme of “Water” expressing fluidity and flow in Egyptian dance. Workshop instructors included Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy, Liza Laziza and Essam Said.
The majority of the dance workshops consisted of technically challenging choreography. I particularly enjoyed learning Mahmoud Reda’s “Ahsan Nas” choreography which includes various folk styles. I bought the DVD so I could revisit it once I returned home. I also really enjoyed Liza’s workshops, which covered improvisation using emotion and expression.
After the festival I stayed for an extra rest day at El Gouna where I booked a Hamam – a luxurious Turkish bath, and a sunset camel ride to take in the final views of the Red Sea.
The second program was Return to the Source held in the village of Abu Sir, an hour out of Cairo near the pyramids – a five-day program organised by Maria Sangiorgi.
Here we participated in activities that included a camel ride to the pyramids, dance workshops, exploring village life, a tour to Saqqara Pyramid, a private show by a Baladi band, meditations by the pyramids and a session with the Mazaher Ensemble.
What I will always remember, apart from the dancing, is being part of a gathering of amazing women from around the world.