Thursday, January 26, 2012

From "Gilded Serpent": Facing the Truth about Working in Cairo

I love Egypt and Cairo. Like a good Orientalist, I'm always trying to figure out how I can get back.  Still, this article, "Facing the Truth," by Leila of Cairo in  Gilded Serpent Magazine  is an interesting read.  She takes aim at our belly dance communities' romanticized (aka Orientalist) view of working as a dancer in Egypt.  Clearly embittered but dedicated to her career, Leila reports on the system of paying "impressarios" to get work, politics, sexual advances by night club managers, and the many dancers vying for few jobs.  Some of these challenges exist in any city, of course.  My biggest qualm is in regards to her complaint about policies that limit the number of foreign dancers in Cairo.  I can understand why such policies exist but don't know enough about how they are enforced or controlled.  When I was in Cairo in 2010, I got into a discussion with a very liberal minded Egyptian (Cairoenne)  Egyptologist from AUC who was all for limiting the amount of work foreign archeologists and Egyptologists could do in Egypt.  I tend to agree.  But, as with all "policies," I'm certain enforcement turns ugly.  Anyway, this article about dancing in Cairo before and after the January 2011 is an interesting inside view of one dancer's experience.  Please read: