April 10-13, 2014

Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra

Sawah (Wanderer)



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Yasmina Ramzy brings to life the high energy moves and sounds of Middle Eastern dance with her large orchestra and company of dancers. Every performance is dazzling, uplifting and will make you want to get up and dance.

Lynanne Sparrow
Artistic Associate – Dance, Performing Arts Department
Harbourfront Centre

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  • About the Artistic Director

After a year of inward exploration, Arabesque re-emerges to present the world debut of Sawah, a performance where Arab and Western cultures find common ground and the classical and modern intertwine. Montreal and Toronto artists join in one creative family of over 20 dancers and 20 musicians.

The Arabic word sawah means a “traveller” or “wanderer.” The nomads of the deserts of the Middle East are renowned for their hospitality. The eagerness to share knowledge, food, culture and art, giving and receiving is deeply important and infused with ritual. The farther away their guest travels from, the more treasured is the learning opportunity the visitor offers.

In Sawah, Arabesque remains authentic but veers away from traditional Arab music and dance. The company ventures out along its new chosen path in a world where East and West, old and modern, music and dance unite to create something very new. Arabesque has welcomed five dance artists from Montreal, an oud ensemble and an army of drummers interacting with dancers. With over 40 artists, there is lots of collaboration as Arabesque makes new friends and shares its heart and soul.

Formed in 1992, Arabesque has thrilled audiences internationally with nine major productions featuring many dance and live music styles of the Middle East as well as contemporary interpretive expression led by directors Yasmina Ramzy, Bassam Bishara and Suleiman Warwar.

This group of Canadian dance artists and Arab musicians love working with each other. Audiences comment that the love is palpable. Over the last nine years, Arabesque has implemented Western sensibilities in the hopes of transforming a traditional solo dance form into ensemble work without losing its Arab essence. Arabesque has taken Arab musicians, whose tradition is to improvise, and forced them to rehearse and memorize so they can accompany the dancer’s choreography.

“The process has never been easy but we keep persisting because magic happens as the musicians and dancers inspire each other,” says Ramzy.

The recipient of numerous awards and critical acclaim for artistic excellence, the company has performed across Canada, United States, Europe, Middle East and alongside such artists as Alabina, Bijan Mortazavi, Amr Diab, The Rolling Stones, Rageb Alema and Ben Harper to name a few.

Arabesque is a unique ensemble of dance and music artists with over 1.3 million YouTube views. Since there is nothing to compare to their work, the experience Arabesque provides can only be understood through attending a performance.

Yasmina Ramzy is a visionary and a highly acclaimed choreographer committed to the presentation of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she has performed and taught in over 60 cities on five continents, often performing for royalty and heads of state throughout the Middle East. Yasmina has had the unique privilege of performing for several years in Syria with the famous master musicians of Allepo. She received her training in Egypt and Syria, including Aida Nour of the Reda Troupe and Mohammed Khalil, director of the National Folklore Troupe of Egypt. Her unique and highly creative choreography is commissioned by many dance ensembles internationally. A mentor to many, she is known for revealing the authentic, organic nature of Mid-East dance.