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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid