Dance Futures Cairo

Sustainable strategies for dance development, exported from the UK to Egypt.

 

 

  • Community Dance Practice

  • Project Management and Fundraising

  • 1 to 1 mentoring for full time trainees

  • ChoreoLAB

  • Open classes

  • Dance Futures Fund

 

 

What is Dance Futures?

 

Dance Futures was created as a multifaceted program of workshops to support dance artists in Cairo to create sustainable careers as well as try to instigate a culture of community dance practice, and entrepreneurship among independent artists in the city. Zosia Jo is a British dance artist with 8 years experience in three key areas: Community dance and creative education; fundraising and self-management of creative projects; choreography. This unique course offered artists the chance to develop in one, two or all of these areas and to see how each can compliment the other in the creation of a sustainable and diverse arts career. The course ran for 6 weeks intensively and, after a short break, Zosia is now offering one to one mentoring to all participants while they develop their own projects.

 

The project was made possible thanks to support from Ezzat Ezzat Contemporary Dance Studio, British Council Egypt and ECF Step Beyond.

 

Achievement

 

The course was attended by 7 full time trainees who attended all sessions and a further 8 part time trainees who accessed the training most relevant to them. There were artists on the community dance program specialising in a range of styles including contemporary dance, Baladi dance, Street/Hip Hop, ballet, tango and French folk dance. There were also trainees attending who are from a psychotherapy background and who were interested in dance movement therapy and integrating creative movement into their practice. 9 out of the 12 trainees are now using their new skills in projects and classes of their own. Zosia continues to mentor and support them with their teaching, which includes work with children, refugees, therapeutic dance and ballet. The fundraising and management course was attended not only by 8 dance artists, but also a photographer, a dance therapist, a writer and a stage manager. By the end of the 6 weeks each participant was able to draft a funding application and grasp the basics of project planning. The choreography lab and workshops fed beautifully into the community dance practice program as it gave participants practical experience of the techniques and practices discussed. It also gave a handful of emerging dance artists the chance to experiment with ideas and new tools to help them develop their movement and choreography. One participant used the workshop as a chance to develop a solo he performed in December; another with developing a new work to perform at refugee fundraisers and another is creating a dance film with a collaborator. The entire course from advertising to delivery was offered bilingually in Arabic and English.

 

Challenges

 

The biggest challenge in delivering this project was the diversity of the group. Having been designed with only professional contemporary dance artists in mind, some of the content presumed basic knowledge and experience. However, it was such a blessing to offer the training to such a variety of people, because the benefits can extend far beyond the dance scene and into various contexts across the city. Teaching the workshops themselves stretched Zosia’s differentiation skills to their maximum and required patience and motivation from the group. This ended up working immensely well however, as the skills involved in working together with people from different backgrounds and with different abilities are precisely the skills needed for successful community dance practice and social entrepreneurship.

 

Participant feedback

 

“I got many ideas and ways of delivering dance sessions. Learned how to make them more positive, creative, better ways to deal with children and learned how to develop my weaknesses. I will hopefully continue teaching adding more creativity fun and joy into my classes”

 

“I learned techniques for working with children and adolescents. How to get the attention of participants and some tips on project management especially in formulating my ideas. Now I will put what I learned into my practice and start writing proposals for my sessions.”

 

“I understand how to structure community dance sessions and what are the elements of a successful session. I enriched my current knowledge. I got lots of new ideas and valuable feedback. I appreciated the group discussion as we all came from different backgrounds. The choreolab was the first step towards my own creation. I feel the course encouraged me to be more confident in the creative process. I believe Dance Futures gave my career a new direction that I’ve been needing to take.”

 

“The information given in the course was comprehensive and very organised. The workshop sessions were beneficial in developing the skills necessary to grow as a dancer.”

 

“I never thought I would be able to give a class and to communicate actively with participants. I found myself after Zosia’s instructions and continuous genuine support that I could do it! I will use what I have learnt to use dance in therapy in the hospital where I work. Now I plan to attend a dance movement therapy workshop in Sicily and run therapeutic movement workshops.”