Mohamed El Hosseny
Published in Ishtar magazine (Finland), nr. 1/2007
At the beginning: love for simsimiyya, the folklore of my home town Suez, a folklore that was about to die out
because of the little interest of Egyptian folklore troups for it. Then: an idea. The idea of developing the
folklore, turning simsimiyya to be a sophisticated form of art.
Long days of planning, thinking, listening to music, searching new steps, to make true the words “why not”, without which no development can happen in art. I wanted to renew the folklore, but I didn’t want to change it to something not recognizable.
I think not many people realize the way Layali Simsimiyya was done and what kinds of little and big problems I encountered in creating it. I found myself working as a choreographer making a full night show with three companies located in three different places. First of all the orchestra: working with the musicians was not easy even though they are professionals, because they were not used to work with a dance company, do work being forced to count, not just play their songs with feeling, El Hosseny Dance Company: choosing the suitable dancers and training them. For some of them simsimiyya was a new style with more foot work than they were used to do. I have just to thank them for this commitment to the rehearsals and training, they really worked with all their hearts to realize this dream that had become not just mine, but the dream of all of us. The poor boys worked without their female partners, the beautiful and skillful ladies of Shamsina Dance Company.
After endless discussions on the net and phone, Tuija Rinne came to Cairo last May. Days and nights going through all the steps, the girls positions, the mise-en-scène of the whole show. Then she would go back to Finland to work with the girls for a month, then come back to prepare with me the rest, designing the costumes, getting the boys’ costumes done, buying material for the girls’ costumes, and many other things that had to be done, and go back again. Then I came to Helsinki, leaving El Hosseny Dance Company and Mousa’s Simsimiyya Band to continue rehearsals by themselves. In Finland I took charge of the girls’ rehearsals and made two new dances for them.
Finally came the time to put it all together, after five months of work, the three companies had now to work as one, everything should match perfectly. During those few days and nights of the beautiful month of Ramadan we did it.
My feelings after the show? I’m happy I could make simsimiyya world music and dance, something that can bring joy to people all over the world, yet preserving in it the taste of my own homeland. I thank all who participated in the show. And, this is not the end, we’ll do it again, God willing, in Egypt, in some other country, and also in Finland, just wait!