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Karima Mansour: From Contemporary Art to Leabet Newton

B&W - Jun 2021

Karima Mansour hit Ramadan's screen over her role as Moanes’s mother in “Leabet Newton”. However, this was not her first step in her acting career. Mansour introduced the concept of contemporary dance to Egypt through Cairo Contemporary Dance Centre, which she founded in 2012. The Black and White team wanted to dig in to know more so we asked her a few questions.

  • What do you want people to remember you with?

I am not sure I understand this question, people remember me with... Throughout all the things I have done or in terms of le3bet newton, I am not sure. But generally speaking, I would wish that people remember me as an artist, as a good artist, as an actress, as a dancer, as a choreographer, as a singer, as a hard worker with a good presence and good understanding of the craft. This is my answer in general, but in terms of the series le3bet newton, I just hope they remember that I am someone who played my role well.

  • Growing up, what did contemporary dance mean to you? Did it change now?

Growing up, contemporary dance meant everything to me. I started dancing when I was 5 years old, and it has been my passion ever since. However, my passion has changed now or not changed but becomes more clear and more defined and refined which is the fact that I see myself much more rounded. I am not only a dancer, I am also a dance maker and teacher, I am an actress, I am a singer and I have been acting, singing, dancing, and choreographing for years. It’s true that it is not something that is seen or visible because it’s not cinema or TV, it's more theatre, but I have been doing this all my life.

  • Opening the CCDC what hardships did you go through in Egypt?

Well, any form of the project is not easy because it’s a huge responsibility and it’s a lot of work. So, the hardships meant sometimes giving up and sacrificing my artistic career to take care of the managerial aspect of the project, finding support for the project and continues to be a struggle because we are independent project, and of course, creating a school that offers 3 professional training program for youth to go to their parents to convince them that this is what they want to do and this is what they want to study is of itself a struggle because the idea of studying art is still not something that all people would accept. So, I mean there are many other hardships, but I would say these were the main ones.

  • What have you learned about yourself as a dancer and now as an actor?

As I said, I think of myself as I am because this is what I have been doing. A dancer and a choreographer who creates dance work, I direct work, I am also a singer, which is something that people don’t know about me yet, and acting has always been a part of what I did, but it manifested; differently, it manifested through my dance work, it manifested through my theatre work. I did a few projects, TV-series: sabe3 gar, I did a short film campaigning for aid victims, and I collaborated with Aleya Elbaly called Robin Rhodes. I am also a graduate of the film institute, so cinema is part of my training, education, and experience. So, I don’t think that acting is something new in a specific sense. However, now with this new role, I need to learn many things, and I hope to learn and be excited about it. I am hoping to develop this aspect of me as an artist more.

  • What's your advice for someone who loves dancing but is afraid to take the step?

I think anyone who has a passion for anything or not even a passion, a curiosity. I think they need to give it a try before making any decisions because if I decide not to do something, I need to have tried it before I decide that. Otherwise, I will regret it for the rest of my life. So, I don’t think it is that difficult. I believe that people who want to dance need to very simply enroll in a dance class, try it out, and if they feel that this is what they want to do, they need to take it a bit more seriously; otherwise, I think people are throwing their lives away. If they know what they want to do or believe they have a passion, I think it’s deplorable when people don’t do that because there is nothing to fear.

  • Where do you find yourself the most in dancing or directing? And why?

It's a tough question because I find myself in all of the above, I find myself in dancing, I find myself in directing, I find myself in acting, I find myself in singing, I find myself in teaching. But for me to teach, I need to be able to do the other things; otherwise, there is nothing to offer, and I think each aspect feeds the other, the directing feeds the performer, the performer feeds the actor, the singer feeds the actor and performer and director. So, they are all connected and all-important.

  • Playing Moanes's mom role in le3bet newtown, What does this character have in common with Karima Mansour?

This character has absolutely nothing in common with Karima Mansour. I am not married, and I don’t have a kid; the fact that in the series she is a dancer maybe is an aspect of what I have to offer as a performer, but it’s my story and not who I am in real life, it’s just a role that happened to build on some of the artistic backgrounds that I have which happened to be dance but there are also other aspects in character.

  • Let's go back again to Le3bet Newtown, what did you enjoy the most working with the director Tamer Mohsen?

EVERYTHING! It’s a pleasure, and I have been very proud of this project. I am very lucky to have been able to work with a director like Tamer Mohsen, and I hope that I will work with him again in the future. I am proud of being a part of such an incredible team of actors such as Mona Zaki, Mohamed Farrag, Sayed Ragab, Mohamed Mamdouh, Aisha Ben Ahmed, and Mayan Elsayed. All these people are incredibly wonderful actors. I learned a lot about these people, the team of writers, the costumes, the cinematography, the writing. Everybody who was part of this team is very talented and very good at what they do. Tamer Mohsen is an incredible Director who has very good control of his tools and artistic language. He is very clear; he knows what he wants, he knows how to get what he wants from his actors, from the people working with him. He is a joy to work with, a very respectable person, he respects his work, and he respects the people who work with, and you simply see it on the screen.

  • You're a leo, What is something you love about leos?

How did you know I was a Leo! Well, they say, I don't know how true it is, but they say that Leos have big hearts, and I confirm that this is true. They also say Leos have an artistic streak to them. I conquer, and I agree. That's what I know. There are a lot of other things, but I don't know if it's related to being a Leo or not. Leos are the best, basically!

  • What is something you wish people knew more about contemporary dance in Egypt?

I wish they would know simply more about contemporary dance. Nothing specific but more, I hope that the confusion that some people have when it comes to contemporary dance is removed because many people still think that contemporary dance is aerobics, Zumba, or the kind of dance we watch in video clips or the type of dance we sometimes tend in some theatre productions. It is not contemporary dance; this is a diverse genre or style of dance. Contemporary dance is a particular art form usually created for a stage or specific sites. We can do it in the streets, and it can also be filmed. There is such a language as dance for the camera. But unfortunately, because of the difficulty in creating work, rehearsing, finding dancers, and finding theatres, it is not always accessible. I think contemporary dance is not as accessible as sitting at home and switching your TV on or going online and finding films or series you are looking for makes it very difficult for a broader audience to see. The view is simple because when we have performances and people find out about it, people are there, and the theatre is complete, we can’t find an empty seat. People want more which means that it is a sign that people are interested and hungry for it. But it doesn’t happen all the time. It’s challenging to create and to find this space that will host this kind of work. So, I hope that through TV and cinema, some light would be shed on this art form, because I think it’s a great art form that can integrate well with TV and film. It can also be used in a very positive way. Who knows, maybe shortly; I hope that we do work on a musical where I can sing, dance, act and choreograph and have other actors doing the same thing. It would be awesome.


Interviewd By: Hebatallah Mohamed 



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