Most of the news out of Cairo over the past week has been horrific: Dozens of citizens have been killed and many more injured in the violent protests surrounding the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi. Yet somehow, the Cairo Opera House found a way to present a ballet.
After postponing the opening of Zorba by two days, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company performed the ballet yesterday and today in an attempt to offer audiences some semblance of normality. The Cairo Opera Ballet Company has performed in Egypt and around the world since 1966, coached and directed by former Bolshoi members. Yet according to Ahram Online, the dancers and artistic director are now concerned about the future of Egyptian ballet. Why? Because Salafi Islamist members of parliament recently called for the banning of ballet, saying it is the "art of nudity." The dancers refuse to give up. Last month, they staged part of Zorba at a 29-day culture ministry sit-in, which was launched by Egyptian artists and intellectuals to demonstrate against the spread of religious extremism in the country's culture.
It remains to be seen how the current political upheaval will affect the future of ballet in Egypt. For now, the dancers will continue to perform, offering their neighbors an hour or two of escape from the turmoil going on outside the theater. Here's a clip from rehearsals just before the scheduled opening.