DANCE INVERSIONInternational Contemporary Dance Festival
Omar Rajeh | Maqamat
Duration: 60 Minutes
16 people on tour
Co-produced by Romaeuropa Festival, BIPOD, HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden with the support of Tanzfabrik Berlin, Charleroi danse-centre chorégraphique de Wallonie-Bruxelles, Tanzmesse nrw and apap – advancing performing arts project
A new creation by Omar Rajeh, featuring a cast of internationally acclaimed artists, and is an encounter between contemporary dance, video arts, a drone and a soundscape inspired from the classical musical heritage of Aleppo.
For nearly 1,000 years the minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo soared above Syria's largest city. It now lies in ruins.
The once existing 'monument' represented the city's soul. A monumental portrayal of the cultural, the social, the historical and the religious, it stood witness to countless enerations of gatherings.
With an eclectic range of artists, #minaret proposes a core question of our everyday life. How do we position ourselves, resist ‘numbing’, and face the images of destruction and confiscation of entire cities and the daily violation of human intimacy and privacy?
“#minaret” will premiere at Romaeuropa Festival in September 2018.
A ‘work in progress’ studio presentation took place at Hellerau, European Centre of the Arts in Dresden in May 2018.
There is already significant interest in the new work from international presenters, with the following international performance dates already confirmed:
- 30 August 2018: Showing at the internationale tanzmesse nrw, Dusseldorf, Germany
- 21 September 2018: Avant-premiere at the One Dance Week Festival: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
- 29 & 30 September 2018: WORLD PREMIERE at RomaEuropa Festival, Rome, Italy
- 2 October 2018: Cialo Umysl, Warsaw, Poland
- 5 October 2018 : Tafellhalle, Nuremberg, Germany
Can a city die? And with it the values, ideals, principles, history, and culture that embodied it? Would it be possible to revive its presence?
This performance is an act of resistance against the demolition and destruction of one of the oldest cities in the World. It is an encounter between contemporary dance, visual arts, and a soundscape inspired from the classical musical heritage of Aleppo. A meeting that takes us into the heart of the city, digging into its cultural and artistic heritage and questioning our position towards the act of its destruction today. What remains?
Everything moves, changes, and shifts around us. We experience turmoil of human, social, religious, and political conflicts. A ‘big bazar’ of lost human values and brainwashed minds. We witness a sickening applause to extremism, conservatism, and fanaticism.
Violence / Violation
While witnessing the destruction of a city and the killing and suffering of people, we ask ourselves many questions. What can I do? Do I have to do something? Am I guilty? Do I ignore it? What is my role? Am I able to change anything?
It becomes obvious that in front of the scale of atrocities and the silence of the international world we find ourselves helpless and powerless. This performance focuses on the specific moment of questioning our position and where we stand. How do we act and how are we able to respond responsibly and according to our human values?
This opens a further discussion into the role of culture and the ability of art to initiate change, to resist effectively and play a role in defending human values. Moreover, to ask how it is possible to open opportunities of change rather than fix the structures and mentalities criticized. It seems urgent to ask whom are we resisting against. Is it the fighting opponents, the conflicting parties, that are a result or an outcome, or the underneath hidden logic and policy that controls our World.
The barbaric destruction of Aleppo brings me back to the destruction of my own city Beirut in 1982 by Israeli Warplanes, and the ongoing Civil War. It highlights, at the same time, the destruction of many cities in recent history. The demolition of Aleppo today and similarly of Grozny or Berlin in the past, is not a natural disaster, it is a clear and direct decision of elimination. Not only the elimination of buildings in a city but also its inhabitants, culture, history, values, and future.
We are puzzled in front of our screens, witnessing such atrocities through the Media and we follow the daily ‘listings and calendar’ of violence. An absurd fictional scenario, or this is how it may seem, alienates us more and distances us even further. Reality is shifted by the oppressor, which not only has the ‘authority’ to destroy but also to manipulate our position towards it.
Choreographer – Omar Raje
“Omar Rajeh is the most famous choreographer from the Arab world…"#minaret" combines hisstrengths: powerful movements and a political connection”
Andrea Gerk, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 2018
“[Omar] fait de la danse contemporaine une force de proposition au Liban actuel.” “[Omar] makes contemporary dance a proposal of force in present day Lebanon”
Thomas Hahn, DANSER, 2018
Omar Rajeh is a Lebanese choreographer and dancer living in Beirut. Following an MA in Dance from the University of Surrey, he founded his company in Beirut in 2002. Since then, Rajeh has created 19 choreographic pieces and performed in major European and international theatres and festivals. Rajeh seeks an extraordinary physical presence and aims at continuously questioning the individual human experience in relation to the social and political environment. His choreographies convey powerful movements and are always imprinted with strong political connections. Rajeh’s work has made a significant difference and an essential contribution to the establishment of a contemporary dance scene in Lebanon.
In addition, Rajeh is the founder of BIPOD-Beirut International Platform of Dance, one of the richest and most important contemporary dance festivals in the Arab Countries. He is a co-founder of Masahat Dance Network, a regional contemporary dance network across Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan, and the founder of Moultaqa Leymoun, a platform to showcase and develop the work of young and established Arab artists.