“We’re a dancing culture. Even if it’s hidden,” says Hazem Header, founder and artistic director of ÑUT Dance Company (NDC).
ÑUT is a Cairo-based contemporary dance company that creates and performs worldwide original work by Header, as well as other young Egyptian choreographers and theater directors.
Emotion is the essence of movement. An intertwined relationship of three parties: the dance, the dancer, and the audience, is formed when emotions meet physical movement.
Founded in 2011, NDC is well-rooted within Egyptian society, as it is named after the Egyptian sky goddess, Nut. The company’s first dance trilogy was about Egyptian female society, which inspired the name.
ÑUT welcomes all those who wish to express the madness and joy of their imagination. Experience is relative to the company; everyone who is interested in dance and physical theater is given a chance.
It encourages volunteers and also welcomes dance enthusiasts from all age ranges and backgrounds. From children to seniors, actors, musicians, professional dancers, and those who wish to experience the stage for the first time.
“We performed nearly 80 dances in cultural events and videos. Recently, we performed in the Breaking Walls Festival which took place all over Cairo. What is so interesting about this festival in particular is that we are not limited to performing on a black box on stage, rather, we perform in cafés, offices, apartments, gardens, and on the street,” says Header.
From Heart to Dance
What makes ÑUT stand out is that their dances represent reality and tackle issues from Egyptian society.
“We pose questions to the audience with our dances: did this actually happen in our society? Each performance in itself is a statement that raises awareness about particular soaring issues from Egyptian society,” highlights Header.
As the choreographer, Header explains that his dances are mainly derived and inspired from Egyptian streets, drawings, and civilization. The dances are not limited to contemporary, rather, Header stresses that he adds elements of Egyptian culture in his pieces, which he thinks resonates more closely to the Egyptian audience.
The cutting-edge feature of ÑUT is rooted in the social issues they tackle through their dances.
Header explains that the company recently organized an activity for the 16 Days of Activism campaign for gender-based violence. Most of the women were first time dancers, and they were able to channel the violence they had endured during their lives, in their performance.
“In this group, I had 17-year-olds and 45-years-old participating. They were all dancing and expressing one issue – the violence they experience on a daily basis,” underscores Header.
ÑUT also tackles personal privacy, religion, sexuality, and gender equality – complex issues that are often hard to speak about.
There were also dance workshops done with migrants for the International Immigrants Day. ÑUT has worked with 80 migrants who were exposed to theater and dance for the first time
The choreography depends on the performance of the dancers. Header says that for beginners it takes less time to produce a dance than when he works with professional dancers. It can often take from three weeks to three months; however, some performances can take up to six months of practice.
“There are many people interested in dancing every single day. There’s this misconception that depicts dancing as a luxury not accessible and available for everyone. This is something we’re trying to break as NUT,” elaborates Header.
With the help of Non-Governmental Organizations in Egypt such as Nahdet El Mahrousa and embassies such as the Swiss and Polish embassies in Egypt, NUT is able to provide accessible and sometimes free-of-charge workshops and activities.
“By their support, we try to make workshops and activities accessible to everyone. In general, Egyptians love dance, and want to dance,” Header states.