Arts & Culture

Nada Mashaal: When Life Gives You Hijab, Wear It And Be a Ballerina Anyway

Nada Mashaal: When Life Gives You Hijab, Wear It And Be a Ballerina Anyway

“I failed at splits when I was a gymnast, my sister and cousin could easily do [them] but I just couldn’t,” Nada Mashaal started off her story, remembering when she couldn’t nail the most difficult moves as a 5-year-old gymnast.

Nada, a 20-year-old hijabi girl and a veterinary medicine student, embarked 10 years ago on a quest to find a suitable Ballet school in Alexandria when she discovered her passion for it. With no help whatsoever from anyone, Nada decided to look up on the internet for some places teaching Ballet.

“When I was 10, I was watching Egypt’s Ballerina Nelly Karim on the screen when she was dancing in a movie, I told myself that I want to do what she is doing. I took to the internet, which was rather limited at the time, picked a place and spoke to my mom about it,” Nada says.

Nada’s mother didn’t want her to get distracted from school; she thought Nada was merely overwhelmed by a movie and will get over it in a while. However, after immense pressure from Nada’s side, she had to comply with her new passion.

At first, Nada joined a modest sporting club where she held her first performance, with very simple facilities. She trained there for two years and then when her trainer left, the club decided to close the Ballet section.

Nada searched for another place to pursue her passion. She joined the Russian center and to her surprise, the assistant of her Russian trainer was veiled.

“The assistant, Sarah, is really good. She nails all the moves and the veil doesn’t seem to be hindering her at all. She truly is my role model,” Nada says.

After three years of hard work and leveling up her game in Ballet, and when she was 15, Nada decided to wear Hijab.

“I didn’t have any doubts, I was positive that this is the right thing to do. Despite my mom’s best efforts to convince me otherwise. She said I was too young and I will possibly regret it shortly after. But I went on with my plan and decided to be a Hijabi Ballerina,

“At the Russian Centre, I was constantly criticized by my colleagues who didn’t seem to absorb what I am doing, they kept on pointing out my outfits. I was trying to convey the idea that it’s fine to wear the Hijab and be a ballerina at the same time. Sarah helped me a lot during this phase. I overcame the criticism and decided to proceed with my rehearsals and my performances,” Nada explains.

At the time, a Russian instructor started training Nada; she couldn’t believe that Nada, in fact, can do Ballet with her Hijab on.

The Russian center wasn’t big. During the performances, only parents and a few people could attend due to the rather small space. Her friends tried to convince her to take her Hijab off during a performance on the claim that not too many people would attend. Nonetheless, Nada refused to back off from her decision and performed with the Hijab.

At 18, Nada joined the Opera House, bigger place, and much bigger audience.

“At the Opera, people were, in fact, encouraging and helping me dress up in better ways. I now perform before a very wide audience. Ballet experts told me that technically, everything is perfect. They didn’t comment on my clothes or on the fact that I am all covered up.” Nada says.

Nada once posted a photo of her on a public Facebook page, people criticized that she dances and a Hijabi at the same time.

“Unfortunately, what people may not understand is that Ballet is not something obscene. It’s an art and I can’t know why I shouldn’t be a Ballerina with Hijab as long as I am doing both the right way. I am not saying that I wear the perfect Hijab or I wear the perfect outfits for my Ballet performances. But I am always trying to get better at both, I want to be a Ballerina wearing beautiful Ballet suits and a Hijabi wearing the proper Hijab,” Nada concludes.

Now, Nada gives Ballet lessons to young girls at the Opera house, besides her relentless pursuance to her passion for Ballet.

Cairokee & Tania Saleh: Arab Voices Collide at Shubbak Festival in London
Street Food 101: Healthy Alternatives to Unhealthy Egyptian Food

Subscribe to our newsletter


Arts & Culture

More in Arts & Culture

‘Egypt Uncovered’: New Exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London

Egyptian StreetsJuly 27, 2017

An App for the Timeless Culture of Nubia

BECAUSEJuly 20, 2017

Egyptian Artists Continue to Produce Thrilling Art Despite Increased Censorship

Engy AdhamJuly 11, 2017

Egypt Approves EGP 40 Million Restoration of Synagogue in Alexandria

Egyptian StreetsJuly 8, 2017

Sinai’s Dayra Camp: Waves of Art and Music for Planet Earth

BECAUSEJuly 6, 2017

‘Modernist Women of Egypt’: A Celebration of Nationalism, Womanhood, Activism and Beyond

Egyptian StreetsJuly 4, 2017

Gaming World Depicts the Life of Syrian Refugees

Engy AdhamJuly 3, 2017

Cairokee & Tania Saleh: Arab Voices Collide at Shubbak Festival in London

Engy AdhamJune 29, 2017
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2017 Egyptian Streets. All Rights Reserved.