ArtContemporary Dance: The Free Range of Movements and Feelings in the Middle East

It is not ballet, jazz, lyrical, or hip-hop, it is all of them together
Sandy MattaMay 24, 202112226714 min

Contemporary dance is a style of dance that was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, and it’s said that its beginning was somehow an act of insurgency on the conservative restrictions and systematic movements of the classical ballet, that is when Isadora Duncan, the American dancer has developed her style of dancing, that was more natural, and this is how she presaged the beginning of the modern and contemporary dance.

Maybe during that time, no one has clearly announced that what they were doing was contemporary dance, until Merce Cunningham has led this genre of dance away from the ballet, and introduced new ways of evolving. Cunningham has also developed what is known as The Main Principles of Cunningham Technique, for the dancers in his company, these techniques included; clarity of form, coordination of torso and legwork, rhythmic accuracy, spatial awareness, and virtuosity.

The Contemporary Dance, A Free Range of Movements and Feelings

From the previous historical roots, we can say that this genre of dance is not contemporary at all, not as what its name tells us, however; it has evolved since its inception to be modern at all times. The freedom of movements in this dance, helps dancers to express what they feel and what they think, so, no secrets that most people dance barefoot; in my opinion this symbolizes freedom.

C-Town Chatter spoke to Nada Nader, and Eman Hussein, who are both passionate about contemporary dance and studied it for 3 years in a full-time program.

Nada Nader

Nada graduated from Misr International University (MIU); she has studied Mass Communication. After finishing her studies, Nada began attending many acting workshops; as acting was her main passion, after that she has studied dancing in a full-time program at the CCDC (Cairo Contemporary Dance Center), and she currently working as an actress and acting coach.

The Contemporary Dance, A Free Range of Movements and Feelings

Photographer: Bassam El Zoghby
Event: April 2019 CCDC 3rd Platform

“I see the dance in general, and contemporary dance particularly as a powerful language of expression.” Said Nada.

“The reason why I am passionate about Contemporary dance is that I love everything related to performing; acting, dancing, and singing, and I wanted to study dance through a professional foundation, so I decided to join the dancing school.” Nada Added.

“At first, I was worried about the full-time program I have joined, that’s because it requires a 3- years of commitment; 5 days per week, 6 hours daily, studying different genres” Nada explained, adding that; “at the dancing school, I didn’t study contemporary dance only, but a variety of other styles like; ballet, hip-hop, Marshal arts, and anatomy, that’s beside the exams we take all the time, so this is a great responsibility and requires a lot of physical, and mental effort.”

The Contemporary Dance, A Free Range of Movements and Feelings

Photographer: Bassam El Zoghby
Event: April 2019 CCDC 3rd Platform

About the difference between contemporary dance and other genres, Nada Said; “each genre has its rules, and maybe Contemporary dance is freer than other genres, it allows you to use your imagination, not like styles where you have to move in a particular range of motion, it is also more flexible, and you can do whatever movement you feel, however; it has techniques also; you need to know the rules first to know how to break them.”

“After studying contemporary dance, I became more aware of my body, my mind, and I knew how much work I can do, and this helped me a lot in my career.” Said Nada.

How Dancing helped Nada in Acting

“Acting helped me in dancing, and dancing helped me in acting.” Said Nada. “My main passion is acting, but after learning dance, I noticed how the body is very important to the actor, he is not only a face and voice, but he has to be aware of his body, and dancing is the best way to know more about it.”

“Dancing and Acting are connected in many ways; when dancing on the stage, I use my facial expressions, which are part of acting, during performing, and vice versa”. Nada explained.

“Movement, in general, has changed a lot in my psychology, and personality, I became more able to use all the stress and situation of my everyday life artistically, vice versa.”

The Contemporary Dance, A Free Range of Movements and Feelings

Photographer: Ziad Tarek
Location: Falaki theatre

During her study at CCDC, Nada has participated in many projects as a dancer and a choreographer, on the Falaki Theatre, the theatre of The French Institute in Egypt, and many other theatres. After finishing the school years, Nada has joined in many movement-based performances, as an actor, dancer, and movement coach.

Eman Hussein

finishing her study of Acting and Directing at Helwan University, the actor and dancer Eman Hussein has studied Contemporary Dance at the CCDC and is currently studying martial arts at MESHKAH School.

“I see that contemporary dance opens up space for me to think more about movement, and to know how to move with my feelings or through the experience.” Saying Eman about Contemporary dance.

Photographer: Yasser Shafiey

“Acting helped me a lot in dancing … it helped me to feel while dancing and to have something to say while dancing….” Eman explained.

“I believe that dancing and acting are one thing together … Dancing helps me to act; it helps me to know how to move my body while acting, and vice versa.”

“The difference between contemporary dance and any other type of dance … is that contemporary dance has a large space for expression … it gives me  a space of expression and this what happened in my movie ‘Belia’.”

“Through dancing, I learned and saw new movements, and how the movement of the plumber can be related to contemporary dance, not ballet, or jazz for example.” “I feel that contemporary dance needs to stem from the street, and this is how it can remain more natural,” Eman added.

The Contemporary Dance, A Free Range of Movements and Feelings

‘Belia’ a film produced by MAAT Dance Company

“My movie Belia, which was produced by MAAT Contemporary Dance Center, made me spent a year and a half work as an assistant for uncle Amr the plumber to learn the movement of the plumber and also maintain a natural relationship between me and the plumber.”

Eman likes dancing on the street, and she gets inspired by its people; “Street is changing, so my movement changes with it, it’s not like dancing on stage.” She added; “the street is stronger than me, not in authority, but I mean that the street has many things to say, and this is where my body receives and listens to new voices.”

“I believe that dance should come from the street, even if it may look simple or ordinary movements; but at the end, it is an Aesthetic thing.”

“I write with my body in a wordless language that is deeply understood. I grace the space within and around me when I dance. Force, trajectory, inertia, and recovery; dancing is a ride, a duet between my instinct and imagination. To dance is to heighten your experience of the present moment. Your body is your location – when you dance, you are profoundly engaged in being there.” -Eman Hussien.

Sandy Matta

Sandy is a senior student in the Faculty of Mass Communication, she has known since day one that she wants to study media. Fashion is her passion; she finds herself in reading and she likes cooking for those who she loves. Nothing can stop her from smiling, and when she has to do something; it will be very well done.

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