Adel El Shafey
The second edition of the Spring of Arab Dance runs from March 22 to June 28 2019, in seven different locations. A special event to witness the choreographic news related to the Arab world.
During this event, the french-egyptian rooted choreographer Adel El Shafey presents Logos at the Arab World Institute a solo performance where he explores the societal phenomenon of mind and body radicalization, through dance. Born in Aix en Provence in 1985, the dancer and choreographer followed a literary and history curriculum at university before stopping for some time. A needed wandering in which he embarks on a self exploration, training himself to movement and dance, hoping that one day he could turn it into a career. Years later, his wish is granted and he joins a dance company from Chambery: Alexandra N’possee with which he goes on tour for several months. Since 2015, he has founded his own company: Le scribe. We met him before the performance.
How did you encounter your passion for dancing?
I have always been attracted by the stage, whatever the discipline. I was captivated by the performance, more than football games or even martial arts that I was practicing at that time. Very quickly, I had this dream to be a dancer, without even having skills. I loved the movement and when there was an opportunity to dance, I was grabbing it. In high school, I started to be attracted to hip-hop dance. I then trained myself with some friends. It was not really serious but I have always been very hardworking in my research and training. Dance was for me a healthy activity that allowed me to assert my identity.
What were your first steps towards professionalisation?
I worked a lot, hoping that one day I could go on stage. At first, I gave dance classes in the deep countryside alongside other part-time jobs while training. I could train from 8 am to 3 am in the prefab room of my college. I did not have any goals, I just wanted to become credible in hip hop dance. I then developed my research in popping. A demanding discipline that uses dislocation effects and requires a lot of commitment.
What was your first major project?
The project that for me was the starting point of everything, is the meeting with the team of the dance company Alexandra N’possee, for a role replacement. I was only 22 years old and we went on tour with a play (No limits) that we played more than 200 times in France and abroad. For the first time, I felt like a real performer even though I was still searching myself a lot. Then I continued working with them on other projects, which allowed me to meet other choreographers and develop my own choreographic universe. In 2014, I took a break in order to focus on what I really wanted to do and founded my own company: The Scribe.
You have also created a solo performance, Logos, on the topic of radicalization. Why do you want to talk about this sensitive topic today?
The news obviously inspired me this topic. At one point, we have been overwhelmed with this type of information until today. For me, radicalization is a phenomenon of society and I am attracted by all phenomenons of society. My goal is to inspire myself from it, without judgment. Also, dance wise I like what is raw. Proposals with real propositions and strong universes. I wondered how to illustrate radicalism through dance. It is often seen in the theater or in the cinema, but it was a challenge to translate it into choreography. What can we tell and how can we play with that?
So how can we physically express radicalization?
I worked a lot with falls, imbalances and movements quite spread in the space. I watched a lot of reports and I was also inspired by writings and texts. I do not have a particular method but I like to proceed in sequence. I really like to dance with my hands and it turns out that both fundamentalists and politicians use many hand gestures to spread their speeches. A sort of nonverbal communication that I found interesting and that I questioned myself about.
Today, there is a growing trend for radicalization of ideas and opinions. What do you think about it?
I think we are in a time when everything is going very fast and the human beings need to find an identity for themselves in order to survive, even if sometimes they lose their integrity in the process. It is very symptomatic of our time, we can very quickly end up making decisions that we later regret.
If your body was a word…