Gallery: Street performers cool off Cairo tensions

Despite many political setbacks in Egypt, artists have flourished in the capital city since the revolution.

street performers 370 (photo credit: Eliezer Sherman)
street performers 370
(photo credit: Eliezer Sherman)
The tumultuous political situation that has transformed Egypt in under two years has created wide tensions and unease amongst a population weary from civil unrest.

In the country's capital city, however, one societal sector that has boomed as a result of what Egyptians refer to as "The Revolution" is the arts.Centered in downtown Cairo - where the flashpoint Tahrir Square is located and many of the nation's most important government buildings sit - local artists say the scene is small but intimate.One group, a loose cooperative called Mahatat, carried out a street performance two days after Egyptians nationwide headed to the polls to vote for their new president in what many are calling Egypt's first fair and open race.The street acts were lighthearted and warm, attracting passersby as well as those in the know of the city's arts life. Wacky clowns danced around a street corner, and a colorful percussive quintet drew crowds from the sidewalks into an otherwise unobtrusive building on one of Downtown Cairo's major avenues, in which dancers and poets performed their art.While not necessarily political by nature, some of the acts, such as the quintet, carried political undertones, with the drummers calling on patrons to "show their colors," and eventually "locking up" a man dressed in black who threatened the free-spirited individuality of the musicians.The act, however simple, was met with uproarious applause, and clear appreciation by members of the community who had come to share in the semi-spontaneous event celebrating freedom, expression and individuality.