Rania Khalil

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Latest by Rania Khalil


Searching for an ‘exit’ in 2B Continued theater fest

In her book “The Art of Making Dances,” early 20th century contemporary dance pioneer Doris Humphrey observed “all dances are too long.” This couldn’t have been truer in the case of a 30-minute piece entitled “Exit does not Exit” choreographed by Shaymaa Shokry under the mentorship of Laurence Rondoni. Opening the third 2B Continued Festival …

Rania Khalil

A tree in the desert: An interview with Egyptian choreographer Karima Mansour

With the establishment of MAAT for Contemporary Dance in 1999, Karima Mansour became the founder of the first independent dance company in Egypt’s history. One of the most established choreographers in Egypt, Mansour’s latest work is “Nomadness, recently performed at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC as part of “Arabesque, a series highlighting Arab female performers. …

Rania Khalil

Poignant last act saves patchy "Spartacus" ballet

It must be hard being the Bolshoi Ballet. One of the oldest and greatest ballet companies in the world, they have a 200-year reputation of excellence. It must be even harder being the Bolshoi Ballet of Belarus, because in the wake of the Soviet Union being divided up like puzzle pieces, people just might confuse …

Rania Khalil

"Figaro's" failed marriage between orchestra and vocals

An instrumental version of Mozart’s classic opera buffa “The Marriage of Figaro (of 1784) is being staged this week at the Cairo Opera House. Opera frequenters will be surprised not to be treated to the usual lavish costumes, opulent scene changes, or the hoards of chorus members flooding the stage; but that’s the charm of …

Rania Khalil

AUC reinvents 'School for Wives' at new campus

On Dec. 26, 1662, a new play opened at the Palais Royal Theatre in Paris. It was the work of a compelling young playwright who was unfazed by controversy. Centuries later, the same play premieres at the new AUC Campus Theater in New Cairo to inaugurate the Malak Gabr Arts Theater. The play “L’ecole des …

Rania Khalil

Mai Refky's striking pensive portraits

A solo exhibition by painter Mai Refky is currently on view in one of the small galleries at the impressive Gezira Art Center in Zamalek. Refky’s work is showcased alongside a host of other artists, including Walid Aouni, the director of Cairo’s National Modern Dance Company, contributing with a set of abstract visual works. Ten …

Rania Khalil

An uneven combo of 'Carmina Burana' and 'Bolero'

Carmina Burana and “Bolero are two vastly different ballets currently combined in one performance at the Cairo Opera House. Accompanied by the Cairo Opera Ensemble and the Munich Percussion Ensemble, the work is part of the German Cultural Week. The performance is presented under the auspices of an initiative to launch networks between Germany and …

Rania Khalil

The elephant in the room

This month, Cairo’s hottest contemporary arts venue Darb 1718 hosts an exhibition called “Nun by Amr Fekry, one of Egypt’s most celebrated young artists. Like the space, Fekry’s work straddles lines of elegance and timelessness, at once entirely part of and distinct from its surroundings. Made up of less than 20 photographs and a small …

Rania Khalil

Magnificent 'Russian Hamlet' conquers Egypt

There is a well known guiding principle in the contemporary arts: No matter how experimental an artist wishes to be, he/she must study the classics. This week, the St. Petersburg ballet under the direction of Boris Eifman has taken this idea to heart – presenting a fusion of modern dance and dance-theater grounded in ballet. …

Rania Khalil

Voices of the strangers

This week, the Stranger Festival – Europe’s largest competition for young video makers – arrived in Cairo. The touring show consists of 77 videos made by European youth. From Amsterdam to the Balkans, videographers up to the age of 25 present a variety of topics, from “being strange and a stranger to “the problems of …

Rania Khalil

Lush costumes, lavish set rescue middle-grade "Lakmé"

Cairo Opera House is currently hosting opera “Lakmé, the story of ill-fated lovers, one Indian, one British, living under the British Occupation of India. Written in French by Leo Delibes, it is a story of love, vulnerability and betrayal inspired by the novel “The Marriage of Loti by Pierre Loti. Premiering in Paris in 1883, …

Rania Khalil

A winter delight with Slovak Folklore Ballet

It s a rare occasion when the Cairo Opera House can host a performance that does its lush atmosphere justice. This week, the Slovak National Folklore Ballet does that and more with their performance of “Lúcnica, a spellbinding collection of folkloric dances from different regions of Slovakia. From the moment “Lúcnica begins until the final …

Rania Khalil

Grotesqueness absent in 'Frankenstein'

A comment performance, installation and magazine, comprise the main elements of “Frankenstein, a “transdisciplinary project featuring international collaboration under the direction of Egyptian choreographer Adham Hafez. According to the project’s Spanish curator and “cultural researcher Montse Romani, “Frankenstein seeks to deconstruct the “grotesque notion of the “perfect body – a state achieved by dieting and …

Rania Khalil

Pinocchio joins Shakespeare at new ballet performance

This week the Cairo Opera Ballet Company presents two back-to-back performances of “Pinocchio and “Jeu d’echecs (Shakespeare Suite). Contrasting lively flamboyance with a moodier sophistication – both works contrast on technical levels as well – it appears that the Cairo Ballet Company has reserved its stronger or more virtuosic dance performances for “Jeu d’echecs. Although …

Rania Khalil

Classic dysfunctional relationship tramples postmodernism

Last week, Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s sixth Creative Forum for Independent Theater Groups hosted vastly different dance performances. The Italian group Milo e Frida presented “Varco on Wednesday evening, while the 6 pm and 8 pm slots on Thursday served Spain’s “La Coja Dansa (Much to Lose), followed by “Duiveldans III performed by Hillary Blake Firestone of …

Rania Khalil

Shakespeare clown rendition lights up creative forum

My week has been full of clowns. Last week I reviewed Clowns Sans Frontier from France, and am coming to understand that clowning is not only a form in theater, but a way of life. True clowning transcends banal interpretation as the realm of silly children’s theater, existing instead as a highly subtle psychological practice. …

Rania Khalil

Paul Farley: A voice from Liverpool

A mid the chaos and high energy of the Cairo International Book Fair, an affable, calm figure stood out with his blue linen suit and cool demeanor. The man is award-winning British poet Paul Farley, one of the most distinctive voices in current British poetry. At 44, he’s published three collections and been the recipient …

Rania Khalil

Nat Muller: A foreign portrait of Cairo arts

Nat Muller spent nine months in Cairo as the first curator in residence of the Townhouse Gallery. Her experiences in the Middle East began with her undergraduate studies in Tel Aviv, followed by teaching and curatorial positions in Lebanon and Dubai. Hours before she was to return home to Holland where she will continue the …

Rania Khalil

Clowns cross borders for creative collaboration

In various locations from Sayeda Zeinab to Helwan, youth are gathering to watch a most peculiar performance – a group of four French and three Egyptian performers, all with red noses. Clowns Sans Frontiers (Clowns without Borders), are an artist collective based in France. Like their medical counterpart, Doctors without Borders, the group comes to …

Rania Khalil

Revenge fair and false at La Jeune Creator

Themes of revenge were heavily featured in the history and mythology of the Arab world. On Tuesday and Wednesday night at “La Jeune Creator (The Young Creators), the annual festival of Egyptian or Egyptian/French theater collaborations, the theme has rebounded in different incarnations. Masr El Masraheya company’s “Variations on Folk Tale, staged Tuesday under the …

Rania Khalil

Undermining the 'objet d'art' in Cairo's mind

The Art Object, or objet d’art, once the foundation upon which all “art presentation rested, is becoming a relic of the past in some circles. Artists worldwide are reaching beyond the confines of the solid object in art presentation, toward new means of display that are more inclusive, less costly and, occasionally, not immediately present …

Rania Khalil

Of time and the city

This week, in the lobby of a vast apartment building on Sherif Street in downtown Cairo, I made a request the doorman seemed to find rather strange: “I’d like to see the art exhibition please. He directed me to the fourth floor, where a leg of PhotoCairo 4: The Long Shortcut is currently on view. …

Rania Khalil

No surprises at Russian children's ballet

As I ascended the steps of the Cairo Opera House’s Main Hall yesterday, I heard two eight-year-old girls speaking about the performance we were about to see. “I’ve seen it nine times! said one girl. Politely, the other girl giggled, “I’ve seen it 10. Whether they were talking about the particular ballet “Cinderella or other …

Rania Khalil

A diverse take on a contemporary urban experience

Cairo Atelier, one of Downtown’s most elegant exhibition spaces, is hosting an exhibition of four Egyptian visual artists working in photography and painting. The works of Khaled Hafez, Jehan Salama, Amr Mounib and Ahmed El Shaer are presented in separate rooms, as solo shows, yet curated in a manner that bespeaks a cohesive whole. The …

Rania Khalil

Jennifer Steinkamp's serene dancing trees

On the fourth floor of the Palace of Arts, the exhibition space featuring this year’s Cairo Biennale, I felt something strange. At 2 pm at the crowded opening, with cameras clicking, the tin laughter and the inescapable fashionparade, I felt serene. The piece before me, a computer generated installation of three trees, was titled “Dervish. …

Rania Khalil

Bringing theater to the underprivileged

In the midst of PhotoCairo and the International Cairo Biennale, the capital’s biggest art events at the moment, a performance of another nature surprised and overwhelmed this writer; ranking among the best art experiences of the year. “Tonight is Theater , sponsored by El-Nahda Culture Association, was a three-hour extravaganza of community theater by a …

Rania Khalil

PhotoCairo 4 kicks off

PhotoCairo is a strong collection of Photography, film, installations and video centering on the notion of contemporary realities in cities, particularly Cairo. The current fourth edition is a month-long exhibition, spanning four venues and featuring two symposiums taking place over a series of five days. The exhibition has been two years in the making, and …

Rania Khalil

A vague 'home' without an address

On a small glass doorway in Mounira’s French Cultural Center hangs a poster with information on the exhibition “Home, a new show by young artist Ahmed Kamel. The enlarged, unframed photographs taped to the walls might indeed require information for a viewer lacking experience with contemporary art. Kamel is one of a host of Egyptian …

Rania Khalil

An all-Egyptian bohemian rhapsody

There is a longstanding irony in the production of Giacomo Puccini’s “La bohème. Puccini’s second successful opera, which premiered in 1896, is a story that revolves around a group of artists living on the edge; yet due to what opera has become, and the sort of audience that it draws, the work is anything but …

Rania Khalil

Dario Basso blends Arab and Spanish art

Part modern art, part homage to Arab creativity, Spanish painter Dario Basso’s work is born from a sentimentalized history between Spain and the Arab world. Materially, his exhibit at the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art stands as 20 kheimas, traditional decorative cloth hung as walls in the Arab world for funerals and festivals, which the …

Rania Khalil