Dance and performing arts bring Qatar to life

As host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has planned a wide range of public events. From aerial acts to street jazz, guest musicians, DJs and Bollywood musicals, the country that once treated live performance as dance-like, now has an increasingly dynamic specialty scene.

A Festival in Motion or Motion

A highlight of Qatar 2022, the Festival in Motion was conceived by Her Highness Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, President of the Qatar Museums Authority, as a celebration of dance, music, art and architecture. The performances are inspired by public spaces and heritage sites and are staged at ten iconic locations in Doha and the country. American composer Nico Muhly collaborated with French choreographer Benjamin Millepied on the artistic creation of this festival, both of whom are internationally renowned artists.

One of the variations of the event was held in the entire courtyard of the Qatar National Museum. It was taken by the dancers during the Janie Taylor-choreographed “Anthem.”

“Looking at the structure of this building, it looks like a series of interconnected gestures” Niko Muhli notes. “It is impossible to see everything at once, and we must constantly reorganize all the information that our brain receives” he continues.

“When it comes to music, I found it interesting to create a certain harmony that is constantly changing, a sense of a rhythm that is both stable and unpredictable; thus, the dialogue of music, dance and construction is almost continuous” believes

Nico Muhly and Benjamin Millepied thus wanted to create a form that resonates with each space it is placed in. “At first we thought we’d have to find a series of theaters.” the composer explains, “Then we thought it would be amazing to use the architecture, which is amazing not only in Doha, but all over the country, and modern and ancient objects that coexist in one place, and the power of dance and music to transform space. in real time.”

Although the two artists have worked together sporadically for two decades, this is the first time their collaboration has been this extensive. Ten venues with at least six performances a day for thirteen days, including a dance on water show created by Celia Hollander, in shows stopping near the Museum of Islamic Art.

“On each boat we play different music, and one or two dancers perform on board: so we have a conversation at eight.” Portrays Nico Muhlin. “Here, again, you can’t see everything at the same time; therefore, when you are in the middle of the boats, you only hear the music of the closest ones: it forces the viewer to perform himself, it is a kind of dance. “ indicates.

All of these performances were presented in the iconic places of Qatar, be it traditional boats or the Museum of Islamic Art. The Festival on the Move offered an unexpected perspective on the familiar sights of Doha.

The Black Eyed Peas and the fire-breathing spider

During the FIFA World Cup, many shows enriched the visitors’ experience. Off the field, for example, there was no shortage of concerts and music for those who love live shows.

Shortly after the first game of the World Cup on November 20, the Black Eyed Peas kicked off the party. The event was organized by Alchemy Project.

“This is the first time that these big brands are together” Diana Fazlitdinova, marketing manager of this events and entertainment agency, says, “That’s what we do as the Alchemy Project: we bring these experiences to the public.”

One of them is a giant fire-breathing spider. First seen at Glastonbury Festival, this 50-ton structure served as a stage for world-famous DJs during the Arcadia Music Festival.

“Spider is made from over 90% recycled materials” says Bertie Cole, Arcadia’s designer. “The eyes are the combustion chambers of military aircraft engines, the upper muscles are from helicopter fuselages, the legs themselves are from customs scanning machines in ports: this sculpture contains a lot of military materials, but its main purpose is to bring people together” notes.

Bringing communities together through music is why Dutch DJ Ferry Corsten, who was invited to Doha, loves his job. “It always goes hand-in-hand: sports – performance – music, because music gives you energy; whether it’s hip-hop, dance, electro, rock, whatever, that’s what it gives us.” he insists.

Create an emotional connection

American-Moroccan rapper French Montana performed on the new island of Qetaifan. He believes his two great passions are connected.

“I think that’s the good thing about football and music: they are the only two languages ‚Äč‚Äčthat connect people all over the world” French Montana says. “They all have different faces but share the same passion” adds.

The perfect family destination, Qetaifan, nicknamed the “Island of Fun”, hosted director Giuliano Peparini’s acrobatic show, Fisherman’s Dream, which follows Qatar’s rich history, a small diving village in search of oil and pearls. gas.

Another notable performance: the theatrical adaptation of the 2001 Indian film Monsoon Wedding. This recent musical comedy breathes new life into director Mira Nair’s Golden Globe-nominated feature film.

“This is the story of an Indian marriage put to the test of reality” Mira Nair explains. “When we get together, there’s laughter, joy, secrets, all kinds of drama: we explore the love and little madness we find in a family. A girl who comes together to plan a wedding will have those hopes come true.” he says.

Namit Das, for his part, recalls watching the film in a small cinema in Delhi. Two decades later, he is part of the cast of the stage adaptation. “This story is about how people don’t change, because no matter where you are in the world, the family structure doesn’t really change” believes before adding: “So wherever we perform, people will relate, there will be an emotional connection.” From musicals to concerts, that emotional connection is just as important as the show itself.

The new rise of dance

Dance has a transformative power in terms of physical condition, mental health and even socialization. But in Qatar it was traditionally kept out. Fiorella Otero was determined to change that. In 2018, she created Brava Studio, where she offers dance and aerial art classes, and the results are there.

“I moved to Qatar twelve years ago and usually every time I go to a new country I try to find out where I can take dance lessons, but I realized that there wasn’t a huge variety of dance styles offered, especially for teenagers and adults, Fiorella Otero says. “So I thought to myself: why do I have to travel outside of Qatar to access other dance classes? Why can’t I take some here? That’s how Brava Studio was born.” he says.

Fiorella Otero, fresh from choreographing a music video for one of the World Cup’s official songs, oversees her students’ dress rehearsal ahead of their end-of-season show in a few days.

Reyana Semaan is present there. “I take several courses; For me, dance is an escape from reality.” believes the young woman. “When I’m not feeling well, I listen to music and start dancing or remember to dance, it makes me feel good, so it’s a form of escape” he notes.

Overcoming received ideas

For Fiorella, it was important to dispel misconceptions about dance and religion. “We are lucky to have so many Qatari students who love the performing arts, dance and air shows.” he notes.

Rania Al-Khalaf, who participates in dance classes under the supervision of experienced teachers, explains her part as follows: “I’m from Qatar and the reason I joined Brava Studio is because I’ve always been interested in dance and one of the most important things for me was to find a place where I could feel good, where I could escape from reality.”

At the age of 17, Timaa Kamar participates in many dances during the show. He even choreographed one himself. “I have met people who are not just colleagues but also friends. Brava Studio has brought a lot to the dancers and the dance world in Qatar and I am very grateful for that” it shows.

The dance-focused facility is also the country’s first aerial arts studio. Molly Brown teaches boys and girls ages 4 and under to use hoops and aerial silks. “I often have students come to relax after a hard day at school” he explains. “Nothing beats this kind of physical exercise: it helps you stay fit and in good physical and psychological health” he assures.

Molly tells us what to do and helps us when we’re in trouble. It is necessary to think about the condition of his legs, arms and legs.” he notes. A teenage girl learning hoops says, “At first I was terrified, but our teacher kept telling us, “Trust me, everything is fine, if not, you won’t be in the ring.” The more you do it, the easier it gets.”

Running the studio is a big investment for Fiorella, but she always finds time to perform on the show. “Dance is a universal language; what makes it beautiful is that it allows us to tell stories without using words, we use our bodies to express ourselves” it amazes. And that’s exactly what he passionately did in his performance on stage that day, just like the regulars at his studio. It will encourage us to move a little more…

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