Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dancing Dramaturgy: Shaymaa Shoukry Maykomsh @ Edfringe 2017

Dance Double Bill
Demonstration Room, Summerhall, 4 - 27 August 2017 (not 7, 14 or 21) | 13:35 (14:20) 
The showcase presents Maykomsh and Running Away at Summerhall, a double bill of new contemporary dance from Palestine and Egypt focusing on identity, homeland, body politics and societal pressures questioning what it means to be Arab today.

What made you fall in love with dancing?

I’ve been dancing since I was nine. I used to go to ballet classes when I was a kid and I guess it gradually hooked me. I fell in love. I soon started chasing other forms of dancing as well. During my university years, I performed more heavily and participated in theater acts and talent shows. I started taking professional dancing classes around that time. I did a three year program side by side with my university studies, usually going in the afternoon and fitting in performances whenever I could. 

After I finished college, I studied under Karima Mansour, who was doing a workshop program with Studio Emad Eddin for over a year. Then, I worked in El Warsha with Hassan Il Gereitly for a while as well.

How was your transition from something as classic as ballet to the contemporary?

Well it was definitely very gradual, so I didn’t really feel it all that much to be honest. My workshop experience after leaving El Warsha was really very experimental, which truly gave me the push that I needed to start doing my own work. But again, it was all a gradual process. There’s really no dividing line or a particular moment in my opinion when I transitioned from one form to the next. It’s always been more free flowing and organic than that for me. Every experience that I’ve gone through has had something that was positive and pushed me forward. 

How do you think your performance as part of the Arab Arts Focus in this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is going to be like?

Being part of such a traditional and illustrious festival that has countless performances and viewers is overwhelming to be honest. Thus, I really don’t have any expectations at this point; I just hope that I have enough energy and health to keep up with the intensity. There are so many things to see and do. I usually like to find a way to attend everything at every festival that I go to. With so little time available, that spectator stress will compound the creative toll of me participating. 

That will primarily revolve around my hope of getting good feedback and developing more exposure. 

Is there any particular approach that you always take for the making of the show?

Well I first introduced this performance as part of the 2015 edition of Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF). I’ve played it in a couple of other major places since then. It’s a big act that I’ve already performed internationally. 
The beauty of it is that I always need to readapt it based on the stage that I’m performing it in. I always question the work rather than copy-pasting it. I try to continuously make it feel alive. 

What do you hope the audience’s experience will be like?

I really don’t know (laughs). I’m working on specific things to enhance the audience’s reaction, but what everyone feels while watching the performance is something that only they could control. I don’t really think that much about it, because I prefer for it to be personalized, rather than it being uniform for everyone. It’s not a matter of leaving it abstract as much as it is a wholly personal experience for everyone. 

What’s the inspiration for your performance?

The topic that I’m working on is judgment. We’re really revealing different aspects of the same person. I’m an African, an Egyptian, a contemporary dancer, a woman, and someone who loves hip hop for example. These are just some layers of my identity. We play around with the different aspects of the personality, making them appear and disappear just like they do in our lives. The idea is to showcase the depth of every one of us beyond what we see at first. That’s conceptually the entire idea behind the performance. 

The performer does different dances as if she’s delving into a different side of her personality with every style that she delves into. The setup helps out a lot as well in that it allows every audience member to see different sides of the dancer’s personality, rather than all of them. I hope that people view it as a journey that allows them to truly see that there’s more to people than what meets the eye. Dancing is really the best tool to express that. 

How does the show fit with your usual productions?
Every performance is different yet the same. All the work is connected, but each project feels distinctly special and with a different edge. 

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