Organized by The Cultural Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy) in the heart of the capital city Cairo, and in front of Abdeen Palace, CirCairo launched its festivities on October 4th.
With six local and multinational circus groups, and over 2.000 attendees, the event was a blend of oriental art, music, dance, spectacular performances and overall joy.
“What makes CirCairo special is that it depends on the performers’ personal skills rather than animals or tricks that rely on lighting and technology,” says Basma El Husseiny, Director of The Cultural Resource.
The choice of Abdeen Square was symbolic, as Abdeen had a revolutionary historical significance of being a place where Ahmed Oraby petitioned the people’s rights before Khedeve Taofeek in the late 19thcentury, hence the idea of presenting art, for free, in that specific place.
Where photographers gathered to capture the contagiously ecstatic atmosphere with their giant lenses, the crowd presented a vast spectrum of ages, social classes and cultures.
Being both free and public, the event urged people to let go of those barriers they present themselves with all day long, and was definitely a festive introduction to a well-deserved weekend for Cairenes.
Furthermore, almost 25% of the attendees were Europeans and Americans who – mostly – reside in Cairo and have come to watch the performances. “I enjoyed the Belgian performance the most, because of its creative way in adding the music to the show, rather than having it as merely a background element”, says Olga Mattias, a 62 year old Dutch lady.
Despite the refusal of the mayor of Abdeen to host the event, and his threats of taking down the stage once it was set, The Cultural Resource managed to gain public approval, as well as the support of the Youth of the Revolution Coalition.
“The event was expected to be a massive success; the revolution has taught us that the streets are open to the people,” said Hassan Saber, one of the organizers.
It all began when the Amsterdam Rebel Clowns paraded around Abdeen Square. The Amsterdam Rebel Clowns RebelAct is the offshoot of the Rebel Clown Army, founded in November 2003 in protest of the visit of former US-president George W. Bush. Their costumes, whether clown police, businessmen, or soldiers, criticize and ridicule the hierarchic system.
The stage show then started with El-Darb El-Ahmar school kids. Boys and girls between the ages of 8-15 started their performance, dancing to swing music, juggling bottles and plastic rings.
Then, they gave a circus rendition of ‘El-Leila El-Kebira’ (The Big Night), the famous puppet theatre musical directly derived from the cultural setting of the Moulid (a Sufi festival).
El-Darb El-Ahmar’s performance ended with a whirling Dervish show, which included illuminated dancers, three male and one female – not a typical setting for the traditional dance.
Following the traditional Egyptian show was a mesmerizing performance by Tunisian acrobat Radwan Shalabawy, who impressed the audience by his flexible trapeze show. It was all accompanied by soothing music which every move embodied, as if he were in a trance.
Next was a performance by Ali El-Masry and Shiko Biko, a ventriloquist putting on a comedy show. The humour, though lacking depth, was a better time-filler than the monotonous magic show by Fathi El Masry, who played the regular card tricks on the audience and challenged them to discover where his tricks lay.
Finally, and most importantly, was the highlight of the night. The Belgian M Circus impressed the audience by their performance: an entertaining show of acrobats, unicycling, and juggling to which live piano and saxophones were added. The musicians were elegantly skillful, putting a delightful end to the night.