“Without Damage” Gets A Ground-Breaking Debut At Egypt’s D-CAF

“Without Damage” Gets A Ground-Breaking Debut At Egypt’s D-CAF

People may or may not be familiar with contemporary art, but it involves no damage to the audience to watch the amazing performance by contemporary dancer Mohamed Fouad and see for themselves what the performance has to say; to construct their own meanings.

The 45-minute world premiere contemporary dance show is performed by Mohamed Fouad, designed by Saber El Sayed, and its music is by Ahmed Saleh.

Early on in the show, Fouad declares that the performance is not about “the economic crisis, terrorism, or the new rising fascism in the world” or many other pressing issues he mentions. Yet, it is exactly this that ends up bringing up these topics—which the show claims to not be about—to the audience’s mind.

The rather intense beginning, however, is broken completely and switched to a wonderful, sometimes scathing, sense of humor that continues along the interactive performance when the dancer reveals to the audience that they are not about to see something that was never done before, mocks censorship, and performs his other tricks on the audience.

The satire against all pretence—in this case about contemporary art —is particularly amusing and probably the most entertaining part of the solo performance.

Without Damage is an interactive play, where the audience was asked to join the stage at various points of it. As a viewer, I wondered how this would be received, particularly by an Egyptian audience who may not be used to these kinds of shows. Apparently, it was received incredibly well, with attendees participating in the different parts of the show and some of the audience lining up to watch Without Damage on its second day, which was sold out, while people waited for the break to see if someone would leave so they could join.

Fouad said the first day of the performance, March 22, was “lighter,” as the audience was mostly Egyptian and interacted differently from the more dominantly foreign audience on the second day of the performance, who were more familiar with the contemporary dance genre, giving the second day its rather more intense feeling.

But the interactivity must have been a significant challenge for the lighting design by Saber El-Sayed and musical composition by Ahmed Saleh, which both did a great job managing the creative queues and the rather irregular and unpredictable sequence of the performance, depending on the audience’s interaction, and despite the few technical stage issues that made the performance no less amazing.

Having been present in a recent rehearsal, I am especially impressed by Saleh’s ability to come up, in a relatively short period of time, with these simple-yet-elevating queues of various music genres that brought the performance to life, enhanced of course by Fouad’s full presence, versatility, gracefulness, and immersion in his theme.

I, for one, particularly liked the drawing of the performer’s physique on stage, which the audience would join later in a pose that stood for connection among humans, or as it may be, the lack thereof! It may not be what the performer intended, but to me, that was a big part of the meaning I took away from the performance. Yet that is what modern art is about, is it not? Your own interpretation and your very individual experience.

This article originally appeared in Daily News Egypt on April 2, 2018, and has been reposted with permission.

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