Once again Cairo’s historical downtown has come alive with various forms of contemporary art. After five successful seasons, the capital welcomed the country’s number one art festival last weekend.
With a VIP event at Cinema Radio and a number of world-class interactive performances, the festival is already set to leave this year with a bang. Since its inception, the annual festival has continued to deliver a unique mix of acts that aim to connect the local artists to global standards, highlight the city’s cultural hub and provide a breath of fresh art in the local scene.
With that said, the sixth season seeks higher levels and new achievements. One of the core elements of D-CAF has always been the team’s focus on disability and their contentious support through art. This year the festival is set to once again hammer on the subject through Theatre HORA.
The well-known Swiss ensemble is notorious for their spectacular theatre show, despite its team’s suffrage from Down’s syndrome. The show will be directed by another pioneering mind, French director Jérôme Bel.
“It is the oldest company in Switzerland, probably in Europe, engaging with disabilities,” said Ahmed El Attar, D-CAF’s artistic director and performing arts curator.
El Attar added enthusiastically that bringing this particular act to Egypt has been one of D-CAF’s biggest targets since the very beginning. “We’ve been trying to bring it to the festival for three years. This year, we finally succeeded,” said El Attar.
In order to further highlight the season’s top message—discovering the power and extent of human self-expression—British dance company StopGap, along with Dutch artist Joop Oonk and Irish dancer Tara Brandel, will be showering Cairo this year with spectacular world-class performances.
Shifting the festival’s previous geographical boundaries, those specific acts are set to take place at the City of the Dead on 31 March.
“We’re expanding the boundaries of downtown with our Qaitbay performance,” said El Attar, adding that “it is all about reliving and honouring the past through new thought and new art that we bring to the table.”
The performing arts programme is often at the core of the festival. Furthermore, this year it will include Pascal Rambert’s moving two-actor play, “Cloture de l’amour” (The End of Love). The widely-celebrated play has been translated to more than ten languages since its premiere at the 65th Festival d’Avignon of 2011.
Nonetheless, D-CAF will feature its very first adaptation in Arabic, starring local actors Mohamed Hatem and Hadeel Adel.
Furthermore, Roger Bernat’s “Rite of Spring” initiated this year’s performances last Friday. The one of a kind act is by far one of the sixth edition’s key highlights. The performance serves as an adaptation of Igor Stravinsky’s revolutionary classic. Meanwhile, it is a showcase of Bernat’s directional aesthetic.
On another note, the sixth season will also celebrate 30 years of the country’s very own “El-Warsha.” The festival will give an ode to the company through a photography exhibition, where throwback images from their most iconic performances will be showcased for the public starting on 19 March.
“De La Justice des Poissons” will surely deliver a respectable performance and enchanting atmosphere courtesy of Henri Jules Julien and Nanda Mohamed. Furthermore, Hani Sami’s “Mind, the Gap” will return for another interactive performance.
During the season’s three-week duration, the festival’s line-up is expected to once again shake the local scene and inspire a new set of promising young talents. In spite of the changing circumstances from each season to the other, the D-CAF team is still true to its initial goal.
“The fact that the festival survived till now is a miracle in some sense, but is also the result of a lot of hard work and building on experiences. At this point, we are trying to move beyond just our nucleus, to make D-CAF a festival that is centred in, but not limited to, Downtown Cairo,” concluded El Attar.