On Monday, 21 October, Adham Hafez opened the TransDance 2013 Festival in Downtown Cairo after fears of it being cancelled permanently this year. The festival opened in a small, modest apartment right in the middle of Sherif Pasha Street. The apartment is a shared space, used for several cultural programmes.
“Every year the festival takes place in October. It opens in Cairo and then travels throughout Europe and the Arab world, ending up in New York for the closing ceremony. The programme was supposed to take place over a much longer period, but the summer of 2013 was a very challenging [time for] Egypt and the region. Many programmes were cancelled and many embassies sent warnings, flagging the region as unstable. Therefore, many performances were cancelled or postponed,” Hafez said.
The festival opened despite problems with funding and adopted an appropriate theme: oblivion and resistance. “The main question was what happens at times of war and revolution? It was a question raised by institutions and individuals alike,” Hafez said. For a small period of time it looked like the festival would be cancelled this year, but something happened that prompted the team to restart their plans.
“The resistance [to cancelling] came from the Arab artists. They already had their work prepared and ready for the festival,” Hafez added. The artists would not accept the cancellation of the festival and despite the fickle state of their countries, demanded that the festival take place as usual. This gesture encouraged the team to manoeuvre through these difficult times and find a way to make it work.
“The festival became a performative gesture on its own accord. It became an experience in itself, dealing with oblivion directly,” Hafez said. The festival was shortened and all the performances are to take place in one place, the small Downtown apartment on Sherif Pasha Street. However, some performances will travel to other countries, such as Slovenia and Armenia, and the closing ceremony will be in New York, as originally planned.
On the opening night, video installations by different artists were on display such as the Love Dance stop-motion film by Shyma Aziz and A Tribute to the Egyptian Cinema by Lana El Sennawi. There were also a few photographic installations called Emerging Bodies, by Ikon Chiba.
The festival will continue until 30 October, with different performances set to take place every night for the 10-day period. All performances are free of charge, but there is limited seating available. More information can be found on the Facebook page, TransDance 13.