How Did I End Up in This Place Performance of HEND ELBALOUTY (EG)
How did I end up in this place? بعید عن العین، بعید عن القلب creates a set up of Egyptian underground nightclub in this set up all the elements come together to challenge the idea of female body on display and how can the body own its desire again and question the male gaze, speak it out and not feeling ashamed of enjoying it, enjoying the body itself. Words in the performances are floating between Arabic and English, no direct translation but more experiencing what certain language is allowing us to express certain feelings and emotions. During the research and in the performance, I realised that some topics I would rather use English to talk about and that the Arabic synonyms are not used because some words have social stigma exactly like the female body.
“أرید ان أمارس لغتي الأم في كل ما ھو غیر مباح مثل الجنس”
Telling a story of recurrent daydream, the colour red and a fabricated conversation, full of half sentences and misunderstandings, perfect like a joke.
The performance invites the audience to experience intense and extreme emotions, the duality of pain and pleasure, touching loads of emotions and desires that usually remain hidden and unspoken.
Using Egyptian street dance vocabulary to find home within my body, to experience the unlimited pleasure of physical pain. The performance provides a parallel personal narrative on being an outsider.
The performance is mainly discussing how can we enjoy our bodies and own our emotions through digging deeper into traumas, the patriarchal gaze and its history of sexualising and diminishing bodies.
I wanted to belly dance, I wanted to use Mahraganat -street dance- vocabulary, I wanted to practice sexual Arabic language and find different relations to it. I was aware that using all these elements could fall into a frame of woman displaying her body in a sexual way, but I had to get rid of this idea myself before taking it to any further level. The Journey was so empowering on a personal level, shedding sharp lights on the hidden corners of our bodies and souls, no place for people to expect or Judge.
“Here I am shortening the hardship of the road for you and bringing you to the end. My being and how I hold my body, how I express my feelings, how I stand or shake or lean does not concern anyone but me!.” It’s about joy, pleasure, pain, celebration of freedom. It is an attempt to create a space in those vulnerable moments, and allow them to stay far longer than the performance itself. It’s an embodiment of all shapes of discriminations or authorization that has been practicing on our bodies.
Matthew George McDonald-Bates (live performance)
HEND ELBALOUTY is an Egyptian Choreographer, Performer and Author. She holds a MA in Performing Arts from Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, a BA in production design from The Higher Institute of Cinema in Cairo, Egypt and a 3-year degree in Contemporary dance from CCDC -Cairo Contemporary Dance Center- in Cairo, Egypt. She works across mediums combining and mixing them in accordance to the project at hand. Her primary interests reflect on taboos surrounding the body, race and the forgery of history.
At her last year of study in Academy of media art She won the kunstpreis der FREUNDE der KHM 2021 to continue working on her research about the relation between Art and social class. As part of her MA thesis, she did a research about street dance in Egypt
-Mahraganat dance- the book is a first step to document the dance movements and the context that produced or developed it and how it is influenced by international street dance, the research will be published this year by Academy of Media Art in Cologne.