A girl performs with hanging hoops during a training session at al-Darb al-Ahmar Arts School "DAAS" where children learn circus skills and arts in old Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2018.
A girl performs with hanging hoops during a training session at al-Darb al-Ahmar Arts School "DAAS" where children learn circus skills and arts in old Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2018.

CAIRO - Underprivileged children in an ancient neighborhood in Cairo are getting the chance to trapeze into a brighter future.

The al-Darb al-Ahmar arts school, named after the more than 700-year-old neighborhood where it is located, hopes that teaching children performing and circus arts they will also learn valuable life skills.

The area has long been known for its mosques from the Fatimid and Mamluk eras of 1,000-or-so years ago, and in more recent years unofficial settlements have taken root, with many small workshops and factories that are often dependent on child labor.

A boy performs during a training session at al-Dar
A boy performs during a training session at al-Darb al-Ahmar Arts School "DAAS" where children learn circus skills and arts in old Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2018.

Dozens of children have enrolled since the school opened in 2012, performing locally and in festivals around the country, and some going on to pursue a career in the performing arts, said Adel al-Bahdaly, a coach at the school.

The children learn to sing, act, and play music, but for 14-year-old Atoota, a student at the school for the past six years, there was more to take away than dance routines.

"I benefited a lot. I learned how not to be shy around people, and to have the confidence to speak to them and share ideas," she said.

A boy stretches during a training session at al-Da
A boy stretches during a training session at al-Darb al-Ahmar Arts School "DAAS" where children learn circus skills and arts in old Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2018.