Egypt's Ezzat Ezzat Dance Company to premiere Belbaladi at Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Jul 2016

Taking place between 15 and 24 July, the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is one of the UK’s largest annual celebrations of Arab arts and culture

Ezzat Ezzat Dance Studio
(Photo: still from trailer of Belbaladi by Ezzat Ezzat Dance Studio)

This year the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAFF) will take place between 15 and 24 July, bringing together 147 artists to participate in 35 events dedicated to Arab culture.

Spanning 10 days, the festival attracts artists from the Arab world and Arab diaspora, with some joined by non-Arab performers. Shows many art genres: music, theatre, visual art, traditional art, etc.

Egypt will be featured through dance with the Ezzat Ezzat Dance Company as well as Zosia Jo. 

Ezzat Ezzat Dance Company and Zosia Jo's Joon Dance are both young independent dance companies which, according to the festival organisers, "play significant roles in the development of contemporary dance for the future of Egypt."

The companies will perform a double bill of contemporary dance.

Ezzat Ezzat will premiere Belbaladi, a dance exploration of the most common gestures used in Egyptian body language, set to a score of Mahraganat music.

Founded by Ezzat Ismail Ezzat, a young Egyptian dancer, choreographer and architect, Ezzat Ezzat is one of the crucial players in Egypt's contemporary dance movement.

Established in 2012, Ezzat Ezzat Dance Studio stages performances in Egypt, participates in local festivals, organises workshops, and holds and co-produces artistic projects and events.

Zosia Jo will bring to Liverpool audiences Ana Asif (an extract from Ancient Modernity), a fusion of spoken word, theatre and dance to "create a living, breathing, dancing museum of modern Egyptian culture."

The festival will also include an open discussion event during which Ezzat Ismail Ezzat and Zosia Jo will tackle the nature of the independent contemporary dance scene in Egypt.

Other highlights include traditional and contemporary Arab music from musicians such as the award-winning Swedish group Tarabband, a cross-cultural attempt at creating Tarab (defined on the band's official website as "ecstasy through music") steeped in Western melodies. 

The festival will also feature performance of whirling dervishes with Sufi Mahmoud Pharaon.

The storyteller Alia Alzougbi will bring to audiences traditional tales from Egypt, Syria and Yemen.

Queens of Syria, a troupe consisting Syrian women now refugees exiled in Jordan, will perform a modern retelling of Euripides’ The Trojan Women.

Another evening will include a comedy show by British Nigerian comedian and actor Nabil Abdul Rashid joined by Welsh-Egyptian comic and BBC Radio 2 presenter Omar Hamdi.

Among many other elements, the festival's website also points to a folkloric dance workshop with Moroccan artist Nawarra.

Egyptian-born painter, muralist and illustrator Nazir Tanbouli will explore the idea of mythology and narrative with a dramatic explosion of ink and black and white marks on massive sheets of paper. 

The Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is one of the most important festivals dedicated to showcasing Arab culture to audiences in the UK. 

"The first festival took place in 2002 and it has run annually since that date as a celebratory event raising awareness and promoting an understanding and appreciation of Arabic culture for both Arab and non-Arab audiences in Liverpool and beyond," reads the festival's website, adding that LAAF was awarded the Arab British Centre’s Culture and Society Award 2010 "for an outstanding contribution to the British public’s knowledge and understanding of the life, society and culture of the Arab people."

Renowned Lebanese oud master and performer Marcel Khalife is one of the festival's patrons.

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