Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live

Inspire Middle East


How has Caracalla Dance Theatre influenced culture in the Middle East?

Inspire middle east

<p>Lebanese-born Abdel-Halim Caracalla created the Caracalla Dance Theatre during an era when pursuing a career in the expressive arts was not the norm. </p> <p>Starting with just ten dancers in 1968, Caracalla realised his dream, despite the social stigmas of the time and the civil war of 1975-1990.</p> <p>The 80-year-old became a pioneer of dance in the Middle East, taking folk forms like dabke from traditional weddings to the stage.</p> <p>“I was born into a society that had no links to dance,” he told Euronews. “Pursuing a career in dance was not acceptable, for a man or [a] woman, but I was determined.” </p> <p>Caracalla trained first in his native Baalbek, before completing his apprenticeship under the watchful eye of legendary choreographer and dancer Martha Graham, in London during the 1960s. </p> <p>In the years that followed, Caracalla Dance Theatre toured the world, performing in venues from New York’s Kennedy Centre to London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre.</p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/113/15/1131539/1600x900_bonus-s3e24-ime-bb1-240620.jpg" alt="" /><br /> <em>Abdel-Halim Caracalla talks to his dancers</em></p> <p>Abdel-Halim received funding from some leaders in the Middle East region like King Hussein of Jordan, as well as support from governmental bodies like the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. </p> <p>In 2008, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, conferred Caracalla with the Order of Independence, in acknowledgment of his contribution to the arts in the Middle East.</p> <h2>Classic & contemporary</h2> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/113/15/1131539/1600x900_bonus-s3e24-ime-bb2-240620.jpg" alt="" /><br /> <em>The Caracalla Dance Theatre performs on stage</em></p> <p>Abdel-Halim created a, “unique evolution in Arab dance culture,” by mixing traditional Lebanese dance forms with international methods, so says his daughter, Alissar, who is the company’s choreographer.</p> <p>“It’s the warmth of the Middle East, the music, the colors, the textures – but then you also have the technique of the West,” she says. “You need that technique. You can’t just take a folkloric step and put it on stage and do a two-hour performance with just a folkloric step. You need to be able to elaborate that dance form.”</p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/113/15/1131539/1600x900_bonus-s3e24-ime-bb3-240620.jpg" alt="" /><br /> <em>Abdel-Halim Caracalla with his children Alissar and Ivan Caracalla</em></p> <p>Alissar’s sibling, Ivar, is also involved in the business, as company director. </p> <p>Both are keen to keep their father’s rich storytelling tradition alive whilst embracing modernity.</p> <p>“[In] 2020, everything’s modern. We have to push into the future,” muses Ivan. “Another could say, ‘No, we have to keep our identity, we have to keep our culture.’ We don’t want to veer too far off our roots.” </p> <h2>The show must go on</h2> <p>Whilst remaining anchored in tradition, the Caracalla company has also been forced to move with the times. </p> <p>Of late, its most recent challenge has been to adapt to the impact of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19.</p> <p>The troupe’s last performance, before the pandemic struck, was the legendary love story “Jamil and Bouthayna”, at Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. </p> <p>To ensure all dancers are ready to return to the stage when the time comes, however, Zoom workout sessions are held on a regular basis. </p> <h2><span class="caps">SEEN</span> ON <span class="caps">SOCIAL</span> <span class="caps">MEDIA</span>: <span class="caps">IMPROVEMENT</span></h2> <p>Lebanese Isabelle perfected her ballet moves at Caracalla rehearsals.</p> <p><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BFmKmD7BBbf/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:540px; min-width:326px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"><div style="padding:16px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BFmKmD7BBbf/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" style=" background:#FFFFFF; line-height:0; padding:0 0; text-align:center; text-decoration:none; width:100%;" target="_blank"> <div style=" display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div></div></div><div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display:block; height:50px; margin:0 auto 12px; width:50px;"><svg width="50px" height="50px" viewBox="0 0 60 60" version="1.1" xmlns="https://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"><g stroke="none" stroke-width="1" fill="none" fill-rule="evenodd"><g transform="translate(-511.000000, -20.000000)" fill="#000000"><g><path d="M556.869,30.41 C554.814,30.41 553.148,32.076 553.148,34.131 C553.148,36.186 554.814,37.852 556.869,37.852 C558.924,37.852 560.59,36.186 560.59,34.131 C560.59,32.076 558.924,30.41 556.869,30.41 M541,60.657 C535.114,60.657 530.342,55.887 530.342,50 C530.342,44.114 535.114,39.342 541,39.342 C546.887,39.342 551.658,44.114 551.658,50 C551.658,55.887 546.887,60.657 541,60.657 M541,33.886 C532.1,33.886 524.886,41.1 524.886,50 C524.886,58.899 532.1,66.113 541,66.113 C549.9,66.113 557.115,58.899 557.115,50 C557.115,41.1 549.9,33.886 541,33.886 M565.378,62.101 C565.244,65.022 564.756,66.606 564.346,67.663 C563.803,69.06 563.154,70.057 562.106,71.106 C561.058,72.155 560.06,72.803 558.662,73.347 C557.607,73.757 556.021,74.244 553.102,74.378 C549.944,74.521 548.997,74.552 541,74.552 C533.003,74.552 532.056,74.521 528.898,74.378 C525.979,74.244 524.393,73.757 523.338,73.347 C521.94,72.803 520.942,72.155 519.894,71.106 C518.846,70.057 518.197,69.06 517.654,67.663 C517.244,66.606 516.755,65.022 516.623,62.101 C516.479,58.943 516.448,57.996 516.448,50 C516.448,42.003 516.479,41.056 516.623,37.899 C516.755,34.978 517.244,33.391 517.654,32.338 C518.197,30.938 518.846,29.942 519.894,28.894 C520.942,27.846 521.94,27.196 523.338,26.654 C524.393,26.244 525.979,25.756 528.898,25.623 C532.057,25.479 533.004,25.448 541,25.448 C548.997,25.448 549.943,25.479 553.102,25.623 C556.021,25.756 557.607,26.244 558.662,26.654 C560.06,27.196 561.058,27.846 562.106,28.894 C563.154,29.942 563.803,30.938 564.346,32.338 C564.756,33.391 565.244,34.978 565.378,37.899 C565.522,41.056 565.552,42.003 565.552,50 C565.552,57.996 565.522,58.943 565.378,62.101 M570.82,37.631 C570.674,34.438 570.167,32.258 569.425,30.349 C568.659,28.377 567.633,26.702 565.965,25.035 C564.297,23.368 562.623,22.342 560.652,21.575 C558.743,20.834 556.562,20.326 553.369,20.18 C550.169,20.033 549.148,20 541,20 C532.853,20 531.831,20.033 528.631,20.18 C525.438,20.326 523.257,20.834 521.349,21.575 C519.376,22.342 517.703,23.368 516.035,25.035 C514.368,26.702 513.342,28.377 512.574,30.349 C511.834,32.258 511.326,34.438 511.181,37.631 C511.035,40.831 511,41.851 511,50 C511,58.147 511.035,59.17 511.181,62.369 C511.326,65.562 511.834,67.743 512.574,69.651 C513.342,71.625 514.368,73.296 516.035,74.965 C517.703,76.634 519.376,77.658 521.349,78.425 C523.257,79.167 525.438,79.673 528.631,79.82 C531.831,79.965 532.853,80.001 541,80.001 C549.148,80.001 550.169,79.965 553.369,79.82 C556.562,79.673 558.743,79.167 560.652,78.425 C562.623,77.658 564.297,76.634 565.965,74.965 C567.633,73.296 568.659,71.625 569.425,69.651 C570.167,67.743 570.674,65.562 570.82,62.369 C570.966,59.17 571,58.147 571,50 C571,41.851 570.966,40.831 570.82,37.631"></path></g></g></g></svg></div><div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style=" color:#3897f0; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:550; line-height:18px;"> Voir cette publication sur Instagram</div></div><div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"><div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"></div></div><div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)"></div></div><div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style=" width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"></div> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"></div></div></div></a> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BFmKmD7BBbf/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">“Ever tried. Ever failed. Try again.Fail better.” Becket #dance #livelovedance</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">Une publication partagée par <a href="https://www.instagram.com/isabellezighondi/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;" target="_blank"> Isabelle Zighondi</a> (@isabellezighondi) le <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2016-05-19T16:56:56+00:00">19 Mai 2016 à 9 :56 <span class="caps">PDT</span></time></p></div></blockquote> <script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"></script></p> <p><em>With contributions from Nancy Sarkis, Arthur de Oliveira and Nicolas Tabbal.</em></p>
View more