• Zosia Jo

Desert Island Dances- Egypt Edition- Contemporary Dance Night

Week 2/3 in Cairo- improvisation, injury, inspiration

Due to the surprise fact that I was asked by one of the Egyptian choreographers to perform in his work for the festival, my rehearsal schedule has doubled. Time to reflect has lessened and things have really got interesting.

The first two weeks of my process were characterised by mostly play, improvisation and creative tasks, and thus were full of joy and enthusiasm. Alas, week 3 arrived and the other show dropped. It’s been a tough week of structuring and cleaning. My group are wonderfully individual and idiosyncratic, which is wonderful, but also a challenge in terms of blending them and the work together. Also, some have never worked in this disciplined a dance environment before. I have a sketch of the structure now, and most of the material is there, now for the graft of polishing it into a fluid whole.

The choreographer I am working for is Mounir Saeed, a dynamic performer making a lot of solo work here and in Europe. His piece will be mostly improvised and it’s a real joy to invest so much time connecting to the ideas and playing, replaying, adjusting and discovering the movement. Structurally, he works in almost the opposite way to me: Having already planned out how the piece would look, progress and feel, he is taking us step by step through the piece. It’s nice to know where we will end up. I hope the piece will be as powerful on stage as it currently is in my imagination.

The one snag the last couple of weeks has been injury. Firstly, I fell down the jagged steps at our front door, badly spraining my ankle. Of course, it has been hugely frustrating. Teaching my class via demonstrators and not being able to fully move and articulate in rehearsals. I am on the mend but definitely sick of holding back. Several of the dancers have had niggles and twinges too. I have been trying to set an example about working intelligently. With so much passion and enthusiasm flying around and so little technical training for some, it’s a useful lesson to learn how to work within the limitations of injury. It has highlighted something for me that I hadn’t considered. There is a serious lack of body practitioners here, no physios, osteos acupuncturists… It makes the life of a dancer even harder, especially as there are so few dance events so people are often going from doing very little dance to working full time over night. Something to suggest for the future…

Speaking of the future… plans are afoot. Mounir and I are determined to make a duet together. I would also love to make a piece here that could introduce audiences in the UK to modern Egyptian culture. I am so inspired at the moment and the world feels so much more accessible all of a sudden… Like my world is bigger, or the international scene smaller, or something like that. It’s amazing how much passion there is here. Even with my injury, my dancers injuries etc, I feel as though anything is possible.

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