‘Dance is Not for Us’ by Omar Rajeh and Maqamat at Tanzwerkstatt Europa, Munich

Omar Rajeh, a choreographer and performer, in collaboration with Maqamat, presents a new solo creation titled ‘Dance is not for us’ that delves into his dance and autobiographical world, exploring the act of performance as a shared experience. Through his performance, Rajeh challenges the norms imposed by structures of power, seeking hope and harmony in the face of instability and fear.

Dance Is not for Us Omar Rajeh Maqamat photo by Elizabeth Pearl

In this performance, Rajeh reflects on a past that no longer exists, a fading and deceptive image that was abruptly halted. The memories, emotions, and people from that past seem frozen, disconnected from the present reality.

Drawing inspiration from the pain and stories of cities like Beirut, Rajeh likens it to an elephant’s love and care, which can also crush with heaviness. He contemplates how cities and their inhabitants can crumble and disappear, leaving only stories to be told.

As an artist and curator with over two decades of experience, Rajeh believes that artistic creation is a profound quest to address complex questions of existence. Art comforts the soul and mind when answers remain elusive. Rajeh’s journey has been intertwined with his commitment to Beirut’s cultural and social context, shaping his artistic thinking and curatorial approach.

Dance Is not for Us Omar Rajeh Maqamat

He questions the power dynamics within dance, and the roles of artists, curators, politicians, and society in shaping the art form’s boundaries and relevance. Rajeh believes in the power of presence, where the past coexists with the future, and the act of remembrance becomes a physical process rather than a mere narrative.

In a country emerging from civil war and destruction, Rajeh saw dance as revolutionary and confrontational, breaking societal and cultural taboos. He aimed to make dance accessible to everyday life and individual citizens, challenging the notions of power and supremacy associated with traditional stage performances.

In essence, Rajeh’s performance seeks to liberate the past from present constraints, opening up a dance that belongs to the artists and the people—a dance that represents hope, freedom, and shared experiences.

About Omar Rajeh

Omar Rajeh, a highly acclaimed choreographer and dancer, is a prominent figure in the contemporary dance scene of Lebanon and the Arab world. In 2002, he established Maqamat in Beirut, and in December 2019, he relocated to Lyon, France, where he founded his company. In recognition of his significant contributions and dedication to culture, he was honoured by the French Ministry of Culture in 2021 with the title of “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters). With over twenty choreographic creations to his name, Rajeh’s works delve into the concept of the body’s unity and singularity. Rather than viewing the body as an individual entity with a single centre, he explores the interactive relationship of “bodies” that imbues it with dynamics, presence, and meaning. His choreography seeks to establish an extraordinary physical presence intertwined with strong socio-political connections, leaving a profound impact on audiences. Beyond his artistic endeavours, Omar Rajeh is the founder of the Beirut International Platform of Dance (BIPOD), a renowned dance festival in the region. Additionally, he co-founded the Masahat Dance Network, which fosters connections among contemporary dance artists in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. Building upon this regional collaboration, Rajeh created the MOULTAQA LEYMOUN platform, providing a space for both emerging and established Arab artists to showcase and develop their work. Recently, he has also established Citerne Beirut, an eagerly anticipated performing arts space in the heart of Beirut, aiming to enhance and expand the reach of Maqamat’s projects, catering to a broader audience. Unfortunately, Citerne Beirut was dismantled in August 2019.

Location: Tanzwerkstatt Europa, Munich

Date: 1 -6 August 2023



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