Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dancing to creative and empowering heights

In December, BBC News posted a video about the Ballerinas of Cairo that went viral on Facebook and other social media forms. The video (linked above), details the creative work of Cairo female dancers who began taking their pointe shoes to the streets following a series of terrorist attacks on the city to reclaim public spaces for women and to let the world know that the arts are alive in Cairo. The dancers posted videos and photos online which went viral, drawing national attention to the movement. 

This actually reminded me a lot of the interview with Esperanza Spalding that we listened to for class because of the way that they take a traditional artform and give it new life and meaning. Spalding talked a lot about how she’s realized that you don’t need the approval of others to create art and the Ballerinas of Cairo say the same thing with their art. They are taking the traditional art of ballet dance and instead of having it limit the dancers to traditional movements in a traditional space, using traditional themes of the ethereal, fragile woman, they bring power to the art. They dance outside in unconventional spaces, where if you don’t see them in person, you see the photos and videos that they post online. These artists saw an unconventional use for the art of ballet, and not only use it to promote art in Cairo, but use it to empower women and give them a voice. The Ballerinas of Cairo are an excellent example of creative problem-solving.


  1. I really appreciate this post not only because it's an example of creative problem-solving, but also because it 1) challenges stereotypes associated with ballet and 2) reclaims a space that has not traditionally emphasized and empowered women or dance in a historically (and often current) patriarchal society. This is an example of true creativity to me: one that goes beyond the actual creative action or product to affect and influence millions of people around the world in a non-stereotypical, "non-traditional" way. Reaching people through your art form/invention/thought is one thing, but doing so creatively and successfully in a way that brings awareness to your identity, surroundings, and experiences is a triumph.

  2. I love this. I had no idea this was happening in Cairo and I think it's an awesome way to empower women. It's also really cool that they post the videos online so that it reaches a far larger audience than just those who see them. I also love how they're using art to combat terrorism instead of reacting aggressively. In a mostly-Muslim society where many may not indulge in dancing, these women are showing the world the joys that art can bring them.

  3. I totally agree with Elizabeth in that I think this definitely challenges the stereotypes that are associated with ballet. As you said, ballerinas are often seen as delicate, fragile, etc. Ballerinas are actually super strong and push their bodies to the limits every day. These women are showing their strength by persevering and pushing on in such a tough environment. On top of that, they show their creativity not only in their choreography, but also through the space in which they dance. I don't think many people would think to do what they are doing.

  4. I really love this article! As someone you studied traditional ballet for quite sometime, it's wonderful to see ballet being used in a nontraditional way that has a creative impact on the cultural identity of a country. This interpretation of dance channels the forms of dance employed by Martha Graham. The use of a modern style expresses emotions of empowerment and the search for peace not fully fulfilled by the uptight traditional form. And it is also wonderful that this powerful movement to find a different way to combat terrorism is being headed by women!


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