Theatre director Nora Amin: Our bodies are part of our identity

“Our bodies are part of our identity. We should not hide our bodies or be ashamed of them,” said Egyptian theatre director Nora Amin, participating in the Jasad International Festival of Women Directors, in Rabat.


Morocco- The second edition of the Jasad International Festival of Women Directors was held in Rabat from January 25 to January 29. Nora Amin, writer, director, researcher, performer, and choreographer based in Cairo and Berlin, also participated in the festival. NuJINHA spoke to her about her dance creations called “My Dance”.

“In the Arab World and perhaps even in the Western world, when a woman decides to become an artist, she is subjected to social stigma because many families do not want their daughters to be artists. This pushes us, women, to struggle against social stigma and to prove that being artists are not something that we should be ashamed of or afraid of. Art is an important part of culture and enlightenment. For women, dance is a challenge to social stigma. When women dance, they face sideways glances but they must maintain the strength of their personality, their performance, and their sense of human dignity,” said Nora Amin, who started her career as a dancer.

Nora Amin is now a performer, writer, theatre director, researcher and choreographer. “I believe that the greatest challenge that an actress faces is to be on the stage by performing a physical activity. My ‘My Dance’ creations encourage the audience to dance with me. This is what my creations aim for. This is a real success.”

‘A dance can change the way the audience seeing her’

If the dancer is creative, independent and has a critical perspective and is able to appreciate herself, she can change the way the audience seeing her, Nora Amin said. “As women, we can change our society. Dance is an art and profession that does not receive the value it deserves. The Arab world does not accept women to dance because they think that women expose their bodies while dancing. When women dance, they exceed the boundaries set by society. Our bodies are part of our identity. We should not hide our bodies or be ashamed of them. We should keep dancing without thinking that dancing is shameful or a commercial and consumption issue. As women, we have the power to protect our bodies and femininity with dignity.”

Speaking about “The Belly Dancer and the Politician” an Egyptian film based on a novel by Ihsan Abdel Quddous, Nora Amin said, “Theater must make dance and the body a subject and not just a tool for expression. Women could dance in public in Egypt until Muhammad Ali Pasha outlawed female public dancing in 1834, during the Ottoman occupation. Therefore, it was not society that prohibited dancing in public but the colonizers prohibited it. I believe that art history, literature and the role of women in art should be emphasized through theatre. The hidden history can pave the way for women to break the taboos and stigma that exist in our society.”

Nora Amin has lived in Germany for about eight years. She founded Lamusica Independent Theatre Group in Egypt where she choreographed, directed and produced 40 pieces of dance, theatre and music. In 2011, she founded the nation-wide Egyptian Project for Theatre of the Oppressed and its Arab network. She is an expert and consultant at LAFT, mentor of the Goethe Institute's training program and board member of the German Center of the International Theater Institute. She also holds a PhD in cultural policy from the University of Hildesheim. Her work covers feminist discourse, topics of oppression, colonialism and trauma healing. Her recent dance creations are “My Dance”, “Live Archive”, “Embodying Voice Rituals”, and “Re-rooting”.