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Diversity through dance: Tunisia hosts 5th edition of dance festival

Sidewalk Stories performing during the Journées Choréographiques de Carthage, June 2023.   -  
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2023-Sasha GANKIN


The 5th edition of North Africa's most significant dance festival, Journées Choréographiques de Carthage (Carthage Dance Days), mesmerized audiences in the capital Tunis.

The festival took place from 10 to 17 June in Tunis and the city's nearby Roman ruins of Thuburbo Majus and featured 179 dancers and artists from Tunisia and seven partner countries. 

A cross-cultural performance

The Municipal Theatre in Tunis also hosted a performance of Sidewalk Stories, a cross-cultural performance between Company E, an American dance company, and a team of 25 Tunisian dancers. 

Rehearsing over only six days, the dancers produced a piece inspired by the realities of both the United States and Tunisia. 

"We have been working, dancing, creating so hard these past six days," says Robert Priore, a dancer and choreographer from the United States. "We have really gotten to experience the culture and the people which is the most important part of doing these kind of projects – getting to know the dancers who are living in the stories and in the country."

"From one universe to another"

Sidewalk Stories was composed of parts created by five distinct choreographers. For Ja Myra LaSalle, one of the American dancers and choreographers, ensuring that an equal amount of time was spent on each piece was key. "Everyone worked together to make sure that we had a clear understanding of what was going on with as much work put in to every piece as possible so that when everything came together, [it] looked cohesive," says LaSalle. 

The Tunisian dancers were selected by American choreographers to join the production. 

"The challenge was to create all these different dances because the members of Company E are very diverse," says Rania Semma, a dance student at the Tunis Conservatory. "There are some dancers who are more fluid in their dancing style, others who are more rigid. We went from one universe to another in matter of seconds."

The Sidewalk Stories project is planning a national tour of Tunisia.

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