by Marwa Yahya MINYA,
Egypt (Xinhua) -- In a conservative
and narrow-minded society where dancing is not an acceptable or
a preferable form of art, a group of young people challenged the
customs and traditions and launched the first ballet school in
Alwanat School of Ballet and Fine Arts,
the first of its kind in Upper Egypt, opened in the center of
Minya province, some 220 km away from Cairo.
"The name Alwanat, Arabic for ‘colors’, signals the diversity
of people and programs we offer," Marco Adel, the founder of the
school, told Xinhua.
Many people at the beginning opposed the idea of a dancing
school and claimed that dancing is a form of vice, while others
think that it is a waste of time, Adel said.
Upper Egyptians are always depicted in novels and movies as
tough, conservative and narrow-minded people on matters of arts
and freedom of females.
"Our main problems are finance and the society’s rejection of
this kind of art," Adel mentioned.
In the past, students had to move to Cairo or Alexandria to
join the Higher Institute of Ballet, the Cairo Opera House, or
some private schools, which cost real burdens for families.
"I was so happy when I read about the school on Facebook,"
said Noha Mohamed.
"My daughter, Gigi, was imitating the movements of a ballet
dancer on TV, and I feel she will be a professional dancer in
the future," she said.
"Ballet is a unique type of art and there is nothing to be
ashamed of even in a conservative society.
"I’m so proud of my daughter," she told Xinhua, adding that
girls from Upper Egypt are gifted and they only need a chance to
explore their potentials.
"It’s a positive initiative to change the way of thinking and
to open a new gate for girls to enjoy arts," Nisreen Nabil,
another mother told Xinhua, noting that it is a matter of daring
to dream and to change.
The school helped her daughter enjoy being a female, and
encouraged her to express her feelings and become more elegant,
the mother added.
Ten-year-old Sarah Amr was enthusiastic while training with
her beautiful black costume.
"I adore dancing; it’s the dream of my life to be a famous
"I always ask my mother to take me to the Opera Ballet show
when we visit our relatives in Cairo, and Alwanat School finally
came to change my province’s outlook and the way of thinking
about arts," she said.
Alwanat initiative is a non-governmental self-funded
organization set up in 2014. It seeks to promote the belief that
every person has the right to taste different types of arts and
engage in various cultural experiences to build a more open and
It is not only about dancing.
The school also offers sessions on music, painting,
sculpture, performing arts, gymnastics, cinematography,
photography, and etiquette, Adel pointed out, adding that his
eight co-founders share the love of arts.
"It took time until people saw the results and gradually
changed their perspectives and judgments," the school’s founder
The school currently has about 150 students, most of who are
girls who are four to 20 years old, Adel added.
The school’s fees are affordable and the only criterion for
selection of student is a fitness test.
"I believe that Upper Egypt is a very good place to start
spreading this art," Adel said.
Adel and his team are dreaming of opening more schools and
widening the awareness on ballet dancing.
"We are currently visiting rural villages to discover new
talents and working on a film festival, hoping one day we could
gain international recognition," he said