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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid