Egypt’s renowned prima ballerina Magda Saleh was honored during the event From The Horse’s Mouth in New York.
Between March 13 and 18, New York’s Theatre at the 14th Street Y organized an event dedicated to showcasing Egyptian dance in all its forms and traditions.
As part of the theatre’s From the Horse’s Mouth series, the event shed light on and honored Egypt’s first prima ballerina Magda Saleh through a variety of events.
Saleh, who established herself in New York, is a graduate of the Bolshoi Academy of Ballet in Moscow and Cairo’s Academy of Arts in Egypt. She is also a former dean of the Higher Institute of Ballet and a founding director of the New Cairo Opera House (1988).
Saleh has kept strong links with Egypt and is active in supporting and promoting Egyptian artists in the United States, particularly classical musicians.
The event also included special film screenings.
The documentary film A Footnote In Ballet History (2016) by the Egyptian Paris-based award-winning director Hisham Abdel-Khalek was screened on March 13. The film captures the important years of Egypt’s ballet through Saleh’s presentation.
Another film titled Egypt Dances (1977), which is narrated by Saleh, was screened on March 17.
According to the event’s promotional material, the film is a unique blending of movement and storytelling, presenting rare film footage, videos, and multimedia about Egypt’s dance.
“In this, a groundbreaking documentary, Magda Saleh travels the length and breadth of Egypt to create a visual record of the numerous indigenous dance forms throughout the country,” according to the organizers of From the Horse’s Mouth.
The organizers added that Saleh’s influence and impact on countless areas of cultural life in Egypt and the USA served as a conduit for the celebration of Egyptian dance.
“Over 30 dancers, musicians, historians, and choreographers will participate in this special event. The sharing of stories, memories, anecdotes, and dance will form the special tapestry that is a From The Horse’s Mouth production.”
The participants, whether at the venue itself or through video footage, included Walid Aouni, dancer/choreographer and founder/director of the Cairo Modern Dance Theatre Company; Catherine Batcheller, former soloist, San Francisco Ballet; former principal, Stuttgart Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet; Nadia Habib Eskinazi, founding member and soloist, Cairo Ballet Company; Nimet Habachy, New York icon and long-time host of WQXR classical music station; Diana Hakak of the Bolshoi Five, founding principal ballerina at the Cairo Ballet Company (1966).
Also participating were Adhem Hafez, choreographer, composer, performer, founder and program director of HaRaKa and artistic director for the TransDance festival series; Nader Hamed, former dancer at the Cairo Ballet Company and choreographer; Fadi J. Khoury, artistic director, FJK Dance; Ati Metwaly, award-winning journalist and Arts & Culture editor of Ahram Online; as well as dancers Kendra Dushac, Julia Kulakova, and Lindsey Miller, among others.
This article originally appeared in Ahram Online on March 10, 2018, and has been republished with permission.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.