captioncaptioncaptioncaOn a Wednesday evening, Anamaria Bagaric is crouched in a corner waiting to attend her yoga class. Like most times when she’s waiting around, she is restless — stretching one leg at a time by sitting upright on the floor, clasping her toes and effortlessly lifting her leg up to meet her nose.
The 25-year-old contemporary and classical ballet dancer is one of the five most recent additions to the 20-strong team of the Cairo Opera House’s Egyptian Modern Theater company. But when Bagaric returned to Cairo from Slovenia in August she had no intention of staying — having spent the previous year in the city, she only came back to collect her cat, Tubi.
The relationship between the dancer and her cat is charming, so it’s no surprise she would come back just to fetch him. When Bagaric wakes with an upset stomach on Thursday morning, Tubi doesn’t leave her side, purring while nestled in her arms.
Ballet dancers are known for enduring pain and Bagaric is no exception. With a stomach ache, blistered feet (“I have a blister inside a blister inside a blister,” she says, showing me her toe) and not much rest, she rolls out of bed and makes her way up to the rooftop of her downtown Cairo apartment building.
Bagaric first came to Cairo in the fall of 2015 when she was invited to teach at a ballet school — the owner of the school was introduced to her through a former colleague — and only planned to stay for one year.
But in the past two years she has been craving stability in her dance career. “I was traveling and teaching yoga a lot,” she explains, “and my personal practice as well was mainly yoga — dancing was pushed aside a little.”
Bagaric decided to commit this season to dancing, but it didn’t occur to her that this would be in Cairo. After training in Europe over the summer, she planned to collect Tubi and leave Cairo shortly after.
While in the city, Bagaric taught a few workshops and heard from fellow dancers that the state-affiliated Modern Theater company was hosting a workshop. “It turned out to be an audition and I signed a contract with the company,” she says. “It kind of fell from the sky.”
Bagaric is now training five days a week at the Cairo Opera House in addition to her other dance, yoga and pilates classes. Her contract is for one year.
After training and performing in Monadel Antar’s contemporary dance performance for 12 dancers, Devil’s Hope, for the 23rd Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theater, Bagaric is preparing for an upcoming solo performance at Townhouse gallery’s Rawabet Theater. The show, entitled Dark Matters, mixes contemporary dance with classical and modern ballet.
Bagaric starts each day casually stretching, practicing yoga and dancing on the roof. After this ritual she walks through Tahrir Square to Qasr al-Nil bridge — her favorite place in Cairo — before heading to the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center in Mohandeseen.
The CCDC is where Bagaric teaches on the school’s second-generation professional program. This job is one of the main reasons she decided to stay in Cairo. “I’m so happy that a place like this exists to teach Egyptian dancers about the contemporary form,” she says.
Bagaric is the sole foreign dancer at the Cairo Opera House. “There’s always someone there to translate,” she says about the language barrier. “As a dancer you learn to feel what the director or audience want in terms of energy — because at the end of the day, the language of dancing is universal.”