Le­banese per­for­mance group ex­plores story of the Silk Road

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By CHEN­NAN

Le­banon’s Cara­calla Dance The­ater is now ex­plor­ing the story of the Silk Road— trav­el­ing through his­tory and ge­og­ra­phy to re­vive an an­cient path that has united peo­ple of dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

Sail­ing Through Time tells the story of Tay­mour, a Baal­bek na­tive who— in the prime of life— sets out along the Silk Road in search of China.

The show pre­miered in July at the Bac­chus Tem­ple, in Baal­bek, Le­banon.

It was the open­ing per­for­mance of the 60th edi­tion of the Baal­beck In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, an an­nual cul­tural event in Le­banon.

The pro­duc­tion, com­pris­ing 195 artists from Le­banon, Spain, In­dia, Ukraine and China, will tour Europe later this year. And Ivan Cara­calla, head of Cara­calla Dance The­ater, plans to bring the pro­duc­tion on a full tour of China next year.

Cara­calla, who was in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince, with his troupe to par­tic­i­pate in the third Silk Road In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val from Sept 7-21, says: “The news to­day is full of sto­ries of de­struc­tion, wars and many ugly things. We are los­ing our sense of hu­man­ity, our sense of val­ues, our sense of moral­ity. So, when we were think­ing about a pro­duc­tion for the Baal­beck In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, we Dancers wanted to do some­thing to re­mind peo­ple that all of us share a com­mon hu­man­ity.

“When we look back into our his­tory, what’s the big­gest thing we learn from it? It was the Silk Road, which pro­vided the back­ground for many adventures and sto­ries that have in­formed hu­man, cul­tural and com­mer­cial ex­changes be­tween civ­i­liza­tions.

“The Silk Road brought to­gether the world. It was not just about trade but about peo­ple meet­ing each other and peo­ple dis­cov­er­ing each other. This is what made the Silk Road thrive,” he says.

“This pro­moted the di­a­logue of civ­i­liza­tion, the di­a­logue of cul­ture, the di­a­logue of peo­ple. It was a great way to break bar­ri­ers.

“Since Xi’an was the de­par­ture point of the Silk Road, we wanted to stage a show in Xi’an next year to kick off the China tour.”

He also says the pro­duc­tion has dancers from China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia Dance The­ater, and their pres­ence is the big­gest tie-up that the Cara­calla Dance The­ater has had with China.

The Cara­calla Dance The­ater, founded by Cara­calla’s fa­ther, Ab­del-Halim Cara­calla, in 1968, is one of the lead­ing dance com­pa­nies in theMid­dle East.

The troupe, which has de­vel­oped its own lan­guage of dance by bridg­ing Eastern and Western styles throughitswork­with­com­pa­niesand per­form­ers from around the world, has its own the­ater and dance school in Beirut.

Com­pris­ing around 60 core mem­bers, in­clud­ing Ab­del-Halim Cara­calla, the artis­tic di­rec­tor; and Ivan Cara­calla’s sis­ter, Alis­sar Cara­calla, the chore­og­ra­pher; the Cara­calla Dance The­ater has pro­duced 16 dance shows. They in­clude Two Thou­sand and One Nights and Knights of the Moon, which toured such ma­jor cities as Paris, Lon­don and Washington DC.

Mean­while, the group has been per­form­ing in China since 2005.

In 2010, it worked with Chi­nese ac­tors from theHangzhou Song and Dance The­ater for the first time for its mu­si­cal and dance pro­duc­tion Zayed and the Dream, which toured the world in 2011.

Ivan says that be­sides invit­ing Chi­nese per­form­ers to join the the­ater’s pro­duc­tions, he hopes to have ex­change pro­grams where stu­dents from the Cara­calla Dance School can visit China and learn tra­di­tional Chi­nese dance.

per­form the new the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion Sail­ingThroughTime by the Cara­calla Dance The­ater at the open­ing of the Baal­beck In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, in Baal­bek, Le­banon, in July.


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