News / Middle East

Caracalla Dance Brings Sheikh Zayed’s Dream to Life on Stage

A scene from the 'Zayed and the Dream' performance
A scene from the 'Zayed and the Dream' performance
David ByrdTodd Grosshans

Abdel Halim Caracalla puts his dancers through a strenuous rehearsal at Washington’s Kennedy Center.  The founder of Beirut’s Caracalla Theatre wants every step, every motion, and every prop in just the right place. After all he’s illustrating the life of one of the best know figures in the Middle East, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyah, the founder of the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikh Zayed led the Emirates from its founding in 1971. He is widely regarded as a humble, wise and caring leader who never forgot where he came from, even after the desert kingdoms grew wealthy. It is the Sheikh’s ideals that Caracalla Dance Theater seeks to portray in its production Zayed and the Dream.

Watch our video report:



Ivan Caracalla is the production’s director. He says dramatizing the life of someone so well known in an artistic way was his main challenge.

“It’s not just a production that you can present in the United Arab Emirates or Abu Dhabi or Dubai. But even in the Middle East and even around the world through the human side of Sheik Zayed.”

The ballet traces the arc of Sheikh Zayed’s life, from his beginnings as a Bedouin tribesman through his education and his unification of several nations into what became the UAE.

Abdel Halim Caracalla knows about holding different forces together. Enthralled by the modern dance technique of the late Martha Graham, Caracalla studied at the London Contemporary Dance School in the mid-sixties. He had been a champion pole vaulter for Lebanon, but was captivated by the athleticism and skill he saw in dance.

He started the Caracalla Dance Theater in Beirut in 1968, and kept it alive through the Lebanese Civil war. His family would move the living room furniture and that was the studio. Their home straddled the Christian and Muslim areas of the Lebanese capital, and his studio in Beirut was destroyed several times by the conflict. But, like Sheikh Zayed in the UAE, the elder Caracalla kept his dream of a modern dance company alive despite opposition and hardship.

Now, his productions, including Oriental Midsummer’s Nights Dream, Elissa Queen of Carthage, Two Thousand and One nights, and Knights of the Moon, have established the company’s reputation for dramatic, film-like sets, colorful costumes, and top-notch dance performances.

Zayed and the Dream was funded by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and includes troupes from Ukraine, China, the UAE, and Spain. Abdel Halim’s daughter Alissar is the show’s choreographer. Ivan Caracalla says he hopes the diversity of the cast and the story of Zayed and the Dream will show how art crosses national, religious, and cultural boundaries.

“Because I think the best way to bring people together, the best way to break down obstacles between people and misunderstandings is through the arts and through the cultures. I think it’s a great way of discovery of each other, of knowing each other,” said Caracalla.

Zayed and the Dream has played worldwide, including in Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Beirut and Washington. In November, Caracalla Dance Theater will take the show to China.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs