ALY KHAMEES (EG)
Residency period: October – December 2020
Due to the restrictions and shutdowns relating to Covid-19, I ended up spending the first few months of my residency at La Becque continuing the research I had begun last year, initially to improve my performance. To this end, I learned new skills, purchased some equipment and began filming my own rehearsals to monitor my development, identify weaknesses and improve my technique and performance style. I also learned and experimented with video editing to edit my own videos. In the second month I started to visit the studio of the Théâtre de L’Octogone, where I met the team and my mentor Marco Cantalupo, who was very supportive and who gave me a lot of information about the dance scene in Switzerland as well as a lot of constructive feedback on my work.
The second part of my residency focused on the core of my research, which started in Egypt. At that time I shot a series of video interviews with people who were convicted as felons, called Mosagaleen Khatar in Arabic, which literally means “registered as dangerous”.
Based on this, I planned to make a dance documentary on the same topic after developing the performance. I wanted to show the harsh conditions in which they live: how do they live after prison? How do they talk? I was particularly interested in the way they dance/embody the social stigma they have to live with and the brotherhoods they formed to protect themselves and each other. My project/performance is called Naslah, in reference to a type of small knife often used in the slums in Egypt for dancing and also for fighting. It also has to do with my own style of dance, which I call Bullet & Knife and which explores and reflects the street dance style in the slums.
As I grow as an artist, living and travelling all over the world, I have come to realise how important it is to connect to my roots and the neighbourhood I grew up in and to acknowledge my heritage in order to bridge the gap to where I want to go. I am Egyptian, I call myself a performing artist, not a dancer; I do not just dance… I always try to create a state of mind; I use dance to convey a message or information. I want my performances to be seen and celebrated by ordinary people, not just artists and art organisations. Truly happy moments for me are when I get random messages on Instagram from people asking me about dates for my performances or a technique I use, encouraging me or praising my work. I always seek to create something that is close to my roots and the place I come from.
The people at La Becque were very friendly and the team was amazing. The team and director of Théâtre de l’Octogone were also very supportive. Depending on the Covid-19 situation and the lockdown, I would love to perform in Zurich in February 2021.
Aly Khamees (born 1986) is a choreographer, dancer and actor from Cairo. Passionate about dance from an early age, he joined several street theatre groups in Cairo, Alexandria, and Al-Minya, which allowed him to establish direct contact and interact with an audience. Later, wanting to deepen his knowledge in the field, Khamees enrolled in a contemporary dance program at the Emad Eddin Studio under the supervision of Laurence Rondoni where he developed a strong interest in physical theatre and began dancing in the works of Mohamed Shafik who introduced him to his “Monkey Fish” technique.