Lebanese performance group explores story of the Silk Road
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.