New window to Egypt
Veronica Emad, who is studying to be a tourist guide at the Ain Shams University in Cairo, started learning dancing at the Cairo Opera House when she was 11. “I liked the [Ballerinas of Cairo] idea at the beginning just for fun but after we did many shoots in different places, it has become one of my priorities,” she said. “We became one family.”
She remembers her first shoot with clarity. “There were many people in the street. A man was walking with his Dalmatian dog and we asked him if we could take a picture with the dog. He was very nice and said, ‘With pleasure.’”
Emad thinks Ballerinas of Cairo has the potential to boost tourism in Egypt: “I hope to first travel [with Ballerinas of Cairo] to all cities in Egypt to promote tourism in Egypt, then show people around the world that we have many different types of tourism, from beautiful cities to Pharaonic monuments.”
When he started the project, Taher’s plan was to ultimately hold exhibitions in art galleries. But in less than two years, he has found the project growing many layers. “One of them is showing Egypt is safe,” he said, a tacit reference to the earlier instability and terror attacks. Another is “women gaining their public spaces again,” showing the streets are safe for women.
Yet another development has been the revival of ballet and photography. “Very few people know that Egypt has ballet too,” he said. “We want to change that perception.”
What began as his and Fathy’s project has snowballed into a much larger initiative. Like the ballerinas, other photographers are also seeking to be involved in the project, their photographs adding to its repertoire.