Mediterranean Dance and Music Workshops and Concerts open to the public

 
 

Wednesday 13 - Tuesday 19 October, 2004 - MITP, Valletta, Malta

 
 

Eric Montfort of The Sunday Times reviews Rhythm Diversity


 
 

Logo by Pierre Portelli

A Training Course on Empowering Socially and Culturally Deprived

Young People through Popular Music and Dance from the Mediterranean

 

Funded by the Euromed Youth Programme of the EU

 

Go to the Full Press Release


The guest groups are Milledanze (Milan, Italy) • El-Funoun (Palestine)

L'Officina (Marseilles, France) • Lamusica (Cairo, Egypt) • Etnika (Malta)

 

Concerts of Mediterranean Music and Dance

Friday 15 and Sunday 17 October, 8.00pm

MITP, Old University Theatre Valletta

Tickets: Lm3.50

For bookings St. James Cavalier - 2122 3200 or

Inizjamed - 2131 5562 - inizjamed@maltaforum.org

 

3 Workshops of Mediterranean Music and Dance

Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14, 5.30pm - 8.00pm

at MITP, Old University Theatre Valletta

Saturday 16, 3.00pm - 6.00pm at St. James Cavalier

Lm4 for one workshop - Lm10 for all workshops

For bookings: Inizjamed 2131 5562 - inizjamed@maltaforum.org

 

Workshop fee includes Etnika (Malta) Presentation on

Monday 18 October, 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Tree Nursery and Visitors Centre, Gaia Foundation, Għajn Tuffieħa

 

Public Seminar

“Empowering Disadvantaged Young People

through Popular Music and Dance”

Saturday 16, 9.00am - 12.00

L’Ospizio Hall, Floriana (near Public Library)

Entrance free

 

Go to the Full Programme


A Training Course and Festival

Rhythm Diversity is a training course and festival of popular Mediterranean music and dance funded by the Euromed Youth programme of the EU and run by Inizjamed between 13 and 19 October, 2004, with the support of the University of Malta cultural cooperative, Koperattiva Kulturali Universitarja.

The guest groups are Milledanze (Milan, Italy) • El-Funoun (Palestine) • L'Officina (Marseilles, France) • Lamusica (Cairo, Egypt)Etnika (Malta)

 

The Training Course will focus on how trainers of popular music and dance for young people can use these community-based art forms to make young people more aware of their own cultures and to enjoy the cultures of other peoples through popular music and dance.

 

In the mornings the dancers and musicians will visit young people in secondary schools to present their music and dance and to encourage the young people to interact with them and to discover and/or rediscover these art forms.

 

The afternoons will be dedicated to workshops for the guest musicians and dancers and interested persons from the general public. This Training Course will include formal training and the practical exchange of knowledge, experience and techniques in the use of popular dance and music to empower culturally deprived young people and to help them to reclaim their identity as individuals and as members of a community.

 

The public performances by the guest groups evenings will be held in the evenings.

 

All afternoon and evening workshops and performances will be held at the Old University Theatre, MITP, in Valletta, an ideal venue for such events in which the audience is encouraged to participate actively. 

 

Click here for Practical Details for Foreign Guests

Full Programme

Date

Activity

Tuesday 12 Oct

4.50pm - Arrival of Milledanze

 

Wednesday 13 Oct

11.50am - Arrival of El-Funoun (Palestine)

 

1.45pm - Arrival of Alessandra Sciarra

 

4.00pm - Opening Session at MITP in Valletta : The guest groups introduce themselves to each other. General overview of the week's events. Presentation of logistics: venues, meals, cultural visits, rehearsals, and so on

 

4.50pm - Arrival of L'Officina (France)

 

5.30pm - 8.00pm: Workshop at MITP led by Mille Danze, open to the general public (in all not more than 35 participants)

 

8.00pm - Set up seating at MITP

 

8.15pm - All groups meet for supper at Dal Nonno, St. Paul's Street, Valletta

 

Optional: Live music at Naasha in San Ġwann

 

Thursday 14 Oct

6.15am - Arrival of Lamusica (Egypt)

10.15am - Arrival at St. James Cavalier

10.30am - 12.45: Bokkaporti Skejjel Workshop: El-Funoun and Milledanze (60 students divided into 2 groups at St. James Cavalier – 2-hour workshop)

 

13.00 – Snack and walk around Valletta

 

5.30pm - 8.00pm: Workshop at MITP in Valletta led by El-Funoun, open to the general public (in all not more than 35 people)

 

16:30 am - Arrival of Khaled Qatamesh (El-Funoun)

 

6.20pm - Arrival of Cristiano Carpanini

 

8.15pm – Supper at Dal Nonno, St. Paul's Street

 

Optional: BJ´s Jazz Night in Paceville

 

Friday 15 Oct

8.30am - Van pick-up from Hotel

9.00am-12.00: 2 school workshops led by El-Funoun (Bormla) and Milledanze (Marsa)

1.00pmSnack in Valletta

 

2.00pm - Preparation for concert - MITP

 

8.00 pm - Concert by all groups

 

L’Officina (15 min) El-Funoun (30 min), Lamusica (15 min), Milledanze (45 min) + final 10 min all artistes together

 

10.45 pm - Supper at Dal Nonno, St. Paul's Street, Valletta

 

Optional: Live music - Blues Room Night in Bugibba

 

Saturday 16 Oct

8.30am - Leave from Hotel - walk to L'Ospizio in Floriana

 

9.00am - 1200 – Public Seminar at L’Ospizio Hall: “Empowering Disadvantaged Young People through Popular Music and Dance”

 

15-20 min. presentations by

  • Cristiano Carpanini (Director, L'Officina), "Tradition and Innovation in the Urban Mediterranean - New Paths for Artists and the Public"

  • Simone Mongelli (Milledanze)

  • Khaled Qatamesh (El-Funoun), "The effect of traditional dance on building the identity and sense of belonging for youth and the importance of traditional dance in preserving the culture of a society"

  • Nora Amin (Lamusica, read by Adrian Grima), "Empowering Youth through Dance"

  • Chiara Perucca (Inizjamed), "Performance as an instrument for social action in desadvantaged communities"

Followed by an open discussion.

 

12.30 – Snack in Valletta


3.00 pm – 6.00 pm: Workshop at St. James Cavalier in Valletta, led by L’Officina (France), open to the general public (in all not more than 35 people)
 

8.00 pm – Maltese Night at Dal Nonno - Pasta with Rabbit sauce and rabbit followed by dessert and coffee. Includes a local bottle of water per four persons

 

10.00 pm - Live music at Naasha in San Ġwann. Transport organized by Inizjamed

 

Sunday 17 Oct

9.15 am - Van pick-up. Visit to Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (world heritage site)

 

10.00 am – Hypogeum (1st Group)

11.00 am – Hypogeum (2nd Group)

 

1.30 pm – Lunch, possibly in Rabat. Visit to Mdina

 

Departure of Cristiano Carpanini (afternoon/evening)

 

8.00 pm – Concert by all groups as on Friday

 

10.45pm – Supper in Valletta

 

Optional: Live music at Maestro in Valletta

 

Monday 18 Oct

8.30 am - Van pick-up

 

9.00 am - 12 00: 3 school workshops led by El-Funoun (St. Andrews) and Milledanze (L’Ospizio, Floriana) and Lamusica (Bormla).


13.30 – Snack in Valletta

 

5.30pm-7.30pm: Presentation by Etnika (Malta) at The Elysium Tree Nursery and Visitors' Centre, Għajn Tuffieħa Road, Għajn Tuffieha SPB 07 (Tel: +356 21584473/4), of The Gaia Foundation

 

8.00pm – Farewell Party at The Elysium Tree Nursery and Visitors' Centre

 

Tuesday 19 Oct

10.00 am - School workshop led by Lamusica (Marsa)

 

12:50 pm - Departure of El-Funoun (Palestine) and the other foreign guests throughout the day.

 

5.45pm - Departure of Milledanze

 

Wednesday 20 Oct

Free time for Lamusica

 

9.15pm - Departure of Lamusica

 

Practical Details for Foreign Guests

Venue for Workshops and Performances

MITP Theatre in St. Christopher's Street, Valletta, the capital city of Malta

St. James Cavalier, Centre for Creativity, also in Valletta

Hotel

Our guests will be staying at the Grand Harbour Hotel at 47, Battery Street, Valletta VLT 01, a hotel with what is probably the best view of the magnificent Grand Harbour. Telephone: (+356) 2124 6003 - Fax: (+356) 2124 2219 The hotel website is here.

For information about Malta, have a look at these websites

http://www.visitmalta.com - http://www.searchmalta.com/

Cultural Sites that we will be visiting

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum - Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Neolithic Temples - Mdina

Organizations running the Project

The Rhythm Diversity Project was created and is being run by Inizjamed with the support of Koperattiva Kulturali Universitarja, the University of Malta cultural cooperative.

Weather

The weather in October is normally sunny and warm but it can also rain. I’d suggest you get summer clothes and perhaps a sweater for the evening.

Currency

The Maltese currency is the Lira. One hundred cents make one Malta Lira. There are 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c and Lm1 coins, and Lm2, Lm5, Lm10 and Lm20 notes. (Try to avoid having the latter). Approximate rate of Exchange: Lm1=2.345 Euro; Lm1 = $2.76. Lm1 = 19 EGP (Egyptian pound)

Some outlets, especially in the more commercial tourist areas, accept the Euro. There are also Bankomats/ATMs all over the island, including the airport, and many outlets accept Visa, Mastercard and Eurocard (usually for bills over Lm5).

At the Airport

You will be picked up at the airport by our van drivers. They will have an A4 sheet with your names on them - you can't miss them.


Lamusica independent theatre group

(Cairo, Egypt)

http://www.noraamin.tk

 

Lamusica independent theatre group from Cairo in Egypt will be represented by Nader Sami (musician and composer) and Yasmine Raafat (dancer).

 

Founded in Cairo, January 2000, by actress, directress & writer, Nora Amin. Lamusica independent theatre group focuses on new forms of theatre expression intersecting with literature, visual arts, movement, dance, cinema. Interested in discovering new ways of theatrical expression, representing autobiographies and biographies, physical memory, creating physical metaphor, organizing international workshops, work exchange and collaborations, the group works as well in untraditional performance spaces, site specific projects, and with non-performers and performers, in intercultural performances, and in inter-disciplinary projects. With the use of some technics derived from physical theatre, and ritual, from literary and poetic structures, from improvisation and abstract theatre, the group pays special attention to the issues of gender, personal experience, the reconstruction of the memory, identity, duality, violence, oppression, repression, independent thinking and values, the body, collective history, re-interpretation of the self & the other...

 

Musician and composer Nader Sami comes from an artistic family with a long tradition in music and poetry. He trained as a pianist, then joined some western music bands, which he also helped in founding. He also studied Guitar and Music theory at the Royal Academy of arts, along with independent studies in filmmaking and acting.

 

Nader Sami joined Lamusica independent theatre group in 2002 and he has become the main music composer and live guitar player for several productions directed by Nora Amin, among which “3”, “Nine”, “Ten”, “La Musica 2eme” and “the English Lover”. His main interest is to combine music with drama and the performing arts, especially stage acting and dance/physical theatre, as well as bridging between western and Arabic forms of composition.”

 

Yasmine Raafat started her theatre and dance career with Lamusica independent theatre group in Egypt in 2002, she performed in "Nine", "24" and "Ten", all physical theatre and dance shows, between Cairo, Upper Egypt, Lancaster and Liverpool in the United Kingdom. She also was part of a three years workshop directed by Nora Amin, on communicating human rights through theatre, as part of the youth programs of the British Council "Connecting futures" and "Dance for the Youth".

Yasmine then joined the modern dance company of the creativity center, at the Cairo Opera House, she has completed her second year there and will graduate in June 2005.
 


El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe

http://www.el-funoun.org

 

El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe was established in 1979 by a small number of enthusiastic, talented and committed artists. Since then, El-Funoun has been throned as the lead Palestinian dance company. In Palestine, as well as among Palestinians in exile, El-Funoun has achieved an unprecedented popular recognition; in fact, quite a few of the Troupe’s songs and dances have become household tunes.

 

Since its inception, El-Funoun has aimed at expressing the spirit of Arab-Palestinian folklore and contemporary culture through unique combinations of traditional and stylized dance and music. The Troupe’s repertoire comprises folkloric dance forms, called “dabke”, in addition to more elaborate choreographed forms that embody El-Funoun’s own unique vision of Palestinian dance.

 

In Palestine, the Troupe holds an impressive track record of over one thousand performances since 1979, including its very well attended performances in Palestine International Festivals of 1992 through 1999. Moreover, El-Funoun has participated in the following:

  • US Tour (15 cities) in 1986
  • US Tour (20 cities) in 1991
  • Jerash International Festival, Jordan in 1994
  • Jerusalem Festival, United Arab Emirates in 1995
  • Raatvick International Folklore Festival, Sweden in 1996
  • Babylon International Festival, Iraq in 1996
  • Expo 98 Lisbon in Portugal 98
  • US Tour (5 cities) in 1999
  • France Tour (5 festivals) in 1999
  • Egyptian Opera House, Cairo in 1999
  • Lebanon Tour (5 performances) 2000
  • Expo 2000 Hannover in Germany 2000
  • United Arab Emirates in 2001

El-Funoun played a key role in establishing the Popular Art Centre, a community organization committed to raising awareness about the arts, and opening opportunities for community members to participate in artistic activity and expression. The Centre offers classes in traditional dance, ballet, jazz, music, puppets and drama, in addition to a host of other programs. Through the Centre, El-Funoun’s message has propagated to many schools, organizations and localities.

El-Funoun has won several commendation certificates and awards, most prominent among which is the Palestine Award for Popular Folklore 1997, the highest honour award given in this field by the Palestinian Authority.

El-Funoun believes in building cultural bridges with the world, both to have a healthy exchange of experience, ideas and techniques and to present the long-suppressed Palestinian culture before other nations.

 

El-Funoun in Malta

 

The workshops will include the following elements:

  • Introduction to Traditional Palestinian music, called "dabke" and dance.

  • Improvisation to explore new movements and expressions using traditional
    Palestinian music.

  • Exercises on three important elements that create and are part of Traditional Palestinian Dance: rhythm, concentration and group work.

  • Teaching "dabke" steps.

In Malta El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe will be represented by Khaled S. M. Qatamesh (Director), Noora Baker, Najeh R.Y. Masalma, Maher M.M. Shawamra, and Husain M.H. AAmar.


L'Officina - atelier marseillais de création 

(France)

 

For information about L'Officina please click here.

Read about this year's edition of their festival Dansem (du 18 sept au 10 octobre 2004)

 

Cristiano Carpanini, founder and director

Cristiano Carpanini will be speaking during the seminar about "Empowering Disadvantaged Young People through Popular Music and Dance” on Saturday 17 October. He will be speaking about "Tradition and Innovation in the Urban Mediterranean - New Paths for Artists and the Public"
 

Cati Delolme, chanteuse
Parallèlement à son travail d'interprète (répertoire traditionnel bulgare, géorgien, séfarade, corse...), elle mène une recherche sur l'improvisation et la composition de polyphonies a capella. Elle dirige depuis 2000 une chorale à Marseille et de nombreux ateliers.
 

Anne Reymann, danseuse
Anne est danseuse au sein de divers projets de créations et anime des ateliers d'improvisation chorégraphique. Elle est particulièrement intéressée par la relation musique-danse. Tout en s'appuyant dessus, elle réinterroge les rapports qu'entretiennent le rythme, le mouvement et l'énergie.


Anne Reymann


Cet atelier d'"improvisation mouvements et voix" est destiné au public et aux artistes participants. Forts des expériences puisées dans les pratiques traditionnelles, cet atelier permettra, par le jeu de la ré-invention et de la ré-appropriation, de s'inscrire dans une démarche de création contemporaine.
 


Milledanze

(Milan, Italy)

 

For more information visit this site

 

In Malta, Milledanze will be represented by Attilio Tripodi (guitar), Armando Illario (accordion and dance), Simone Mongelli (percussion and dance), and Maja Musi (clarinet and dance). They will be joined by Alessandra Sciarra.

 

 

Il nostro gruppo, che esiste da una decina di anni, è specializzato nelle musiche a ballo che appartengono alle antiche tradizioni dei popoli e dei paesi della terra.
Fortunatamente questi balli, talvolta vecchi di centinaia e centinaia di anni, vivono ancora oggi un po’ in tutto il mondo (così anche in Italia e così anche da noi in Lombardia) grazie alle numerose iniziative come corsi o feste e ai tanti suonatori e danzatori che si dedicano a questo filone musicale a ballo. Filone che appartiene poi alla radice generale fondamentale della musica etnica-antica-popolare, cioè la madre di tutte le musiche.

Di solito ai nostri concerti vengono decine e decine di danzatori che conoscono il nostro gruppo e questo repertorio, creando così nel corso della festa una grande rappresentazione collettiva suonata e ballata, bella anche da ascoltare e vedere per tutti i presenti. Inoltre ci sono nel repertorio alcune danze semplici che si imparano ballando, cosicché, guidati e aiutati dai danzatori che le conoscono, tutti i presenti possano venire coinvolti nel ballo, e chiunque possa entrare nel “paese delle mille danze”.

Alcune delle partecipazioni più significative degli ultimi anni:
(oltre a numerosi concerti, feste, corsi, rassegne organizzate da vari comuni, enti locali e associazioni, si segnalano le pluriennali collaborazioni con “F.A.I.”(fondo per l’ambiente italiano), “Etnica” associazione culturale, Circolo “ARCI” Bellezza Milano, “LAI Folk”, “Folkaos”, “ARCI” Milano, ecc.). Fuori dal triangolo Milano-Lecco-Bergamo, nostro territorio di caccia privilegiato, abbiamo suonato a Piacenza, Torino, Fiorenzuola, Crema, Fidenza, Genova, Alessandria, Urbino, Chieti, Foggia, Como, Varese, Salecina (Svizzera), Banja Luka (ex-Jugoslavia)…

1998-2003:

Festival “La Notte di San Lorenzo”, Cascina Monluè, Milano (3 volte)

“Cena dell’Amicizia”, Paolo Pini, Milano
Festival “Isola Folk”, Suisio (BG) (3 volte)
Festival internazionale “Sarajevska Zima”, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Erzegovina
Congresso nazionale “F.A.I.”, Torino
Festival de la musique universitarie, Belfort, Francia
Festival “Zingaria“, Deliceto (FG)…
 

Confondersi e mischiarsi nel ballo collettivo raccogliendo il benessere fisico e mentale che deriva dal muoversi ritmicamente coi passi e anche coi gesti a tempo di musica insieme nel gran cerchio della danza.
 

Il repertorio


1) DALL’EST EUROPA E DALLE ANTICHE POPOLAZIONI GITANE
Ovvero da paesi come: Romania, Ungheria, Russia, Serbia, Balcani, Ex Jugoslavia
Balli: Damul, A lu nelu, Setnia, Ciuleandra, Karobicka, Polke Ungheresi,
Eklizijsko Oro

2) DAL NORD E CENTRO EUROPA E DALLE ANTICHE POPOLAZIONI CELTICHE
Ovvero Irlanda: le Gighe, gli Horn Pipe, le arie del grande O’Carolan (5)…
Bretagna: An dro, Hanter dro, Piler Lan, Kostarschoed, Laride,
Marraichine, Gavotte de Montagne…
Francia: Bourrée a 2 e a 3 tempi, Scottish, Chapelloise, Rondo’…

3) DALL’ITALIA
Canti del Sud (Campania, Puglia, Sardegna), Tarantella di Montemarano, Gigo e Courenta dell’Occitania…

4) DANZE VARIE come il Carnevale di Lanz (Paesi Baschi), Mana Avu (Israele), la Portoghese…


Naturalmente in tutte queste musiche c’è qualcosa di nostro, e tutto il repertorio è registrato su 3 CD che abbiamo autoprodotto e che ci portiamo con noi ai concerti.


 

Concerts and Workshops

of Mediterranean Music and Dance

 

Musicians and dancers from Italy, France, Egypt and Palestine will be in Malta in the coming days to lead workshops for the general public and perform in two concerts on Friday 15 and Sunday 17 October at the Old University theatre (MITP) in St. Christopher Street, Valletta, at 8.00pm.

 

The guest foreign groups are Milledanze (Italy), El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe (Palestine), L'Officina - atelier marseillais de création (France), and Lamusica independent theatre group (Egypt). Tickets for the Rhythm Diversity concerts at Lm3.50 are available from St. James Cavalier (tel. 2122 3200), from Inizjamed (2131 5562) and at the door.

 

The three workshops of Mediterranean dance and music are open to the general public and participants need not be dancers or musicians. They will be held at the MITP theatre on Wednesday 13th (led by Milledanze) and Thursday 14th (led by El-Funoun) between 5.30pm and 8.00pm, and on Saturday 16th (led by L’Officina) between 3.00pm and 6.00pm at St. James Cavalier. The price for all three workshops is Lm10; one workshop costs Lm4. Bookings for the workshops can be made by phoning Inizjamed on 2131 5562 or writing to inizjamed@maltaforum.org. The price includes a presentation about the Maltese Etnika project that will be held on Monday 18 October at 5.30pm at the Tree Nursery and Visitors’ Centre of the Gaia Foundation in Għajn Tuffieħa.

 

The musicians and dancers who will be coming to Malta will also be leading a series of workshops in a number of State secondary schools and the first session of this year’s edition of Bokkaporti Skejjel by Inizjamed at St. James Cavalier. The school workshops are being coordinated by Marcelle Teuma of Inizjamed who is a drama teacher at the Drama Unit with the Curriculum Centre of the Education Division.

 

On Saturday morning, between 9.00am and noon, a public seminar at the Hall of L’Ospizio in Floriana (close to the Public Library) will discuss the main theme of the project: “Empowering Disadvantaged Young People through Popular Music and Dance.” The speakers include Cristiano Carpanini (Director, L'Officina), a representative from KKU, Simone Mongelli (Milledanze), Khaled Qatamish (Director, El-Funoun), and Chiara Perucca (Inizjamed). Nora Amin’s paper on "Empowering Youth through Dance" will be read by Adrian Grima. This will be followed by an open discussion. Entrance to the seminar is free.

 

Rhythm Diversity is a training course and festival of popular Mediterranean music and dance funded by the Euromed Youth programme of the EU. The Training Course will focus on how trainers of popular music and dance for young people can use these community-based art forms to make young people more aware of their own cultures and to enjoy the cultures of other peoples through popular music and dance. It will include formal training and the practical exchange of knowledge, experience and techniques in the use of popular dance and music to empower disadvantaged young people and to help them to reclaim their identity as individuals and as members of a community.

 

Despite their different backgrounds and artistic activities, all the foreign participants have experience in the field of dance and music in the Mediterranean and the running of workshops for youth, youth workers and the general public.

 

The Marseilles-based French organization, L'Officina - atelier marseillais de création, has been active in the field of dance since 1996. It is best known for the organization of the DANSEM. L'Officina will be represented by its director, Cristiano Carpanini; the singer Cati Delolme, who specializes in traditional song (like Corsican and Sephardic) and improvization; and dancer Anne Reymann, who has just performed in Dansem 2004 and leads workshops on dance improvization. The Saturday workshop will deal with movement and voice improvization and is meant for the general public.

 

El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe is one of the leading Palestinian dance companies. In Palestine, as well as among Palestinians in exile, El-Funoun has achieved an unprecedented popular recognition. El-Funoun aims at expressing the spirit of Arab-Palestinian folklore and contemporary culture through unique combinations of traditional and stylized dance and music.

The troupe, that has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, has performed in the US, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Iraq, Portugal, France, Egypt, Lebanon, and Germany. El-Funoun believes in building cultural bridges with the world, both to have a healthy exchange of experience, ideas and techniques and to present the long-suppressed Palestinian culture before other nations.

Lamusica independent theatre group from Cairo, Egypt, will be represented by musician and composer Nader Sami and dancer Yasmine Rafaat. Founded in Cairo in January 2000, Lamusica focuses on new forms of theatre expression intersecting with literature, visual arts, movement, dance, cinema. The group often works in untraditional performance spaces, site specific projects, and with non-performers and performers, in intercultural performances, and in inter-disciplinary projects.

 

The Italian group Milledanze recreates the traditional music and dance of various Mediterranean and European peoples. Many of the centuries-old dances they play and dance to are still alive in various parts of Lombardy and other regions in Italian. One of the leading figures in the group is percussionist Simone Mongelli, a graduate from the University of Bologna, who did research for his dissertation about the Maltese folksong għana here in Malta and has worked with Inizjamed and Etnika.

 

To book for the workshops, the Etnika presentation and the public seminar phone Inizjamed on 2131 5562 or write to inizjamed@maltaforum.org. For more information about all the events in the Rhythm Diversity project go to http://inizjamed.cjb.net. The Rhythm Diversity logo was designed by artist Pierre Portelli.

 

Adrian Grima

 


15 November, 2004

Rhythm of Youth

Eric Montfort

Traditional ethnic styles can retain their identities in an ever-changing interacting world. The Rhythm Diversity Festival, held recently in Valletta by Inizjamed,  highlighted this ironic situation as Eric Montfort found out.

 

Afro-rhythms from France and Spanish guitar playing from Egypt were among the highlights of the Rhythm Diversity festival of popular Mediterranean music that was held at the MITP, Old University Valletta a couple of weeks ago.

 

An eclectic mix of musicians and dancers from Italy, France, Egypt and Palestine provided colour, spectacle and lots of insight in the ever-changing and ever-meshing ethnic music scene.

 

There were two such festivals, held on Friday and Sunday, besides a seminar and three workshops, all aimed to focus on making local communities more aware of their own cultures and inter-relating it with others too.  As such, it also aimed to help disadvantaged young people interact in order to develop their identity and thus enhance their very own cultures.

 

Yet, contrary to perceptions, such styles need not develop on their own. In fact that would be one of the worst strategies that emarginated ethnic cultures could do. By and large, history and experience have shown that cultures that did not interact simply died out.  Thus I did not find it at all surprising when L'Officina: Atelier Marseillais de Création, France delivered a mixture of singing and dancing that was intriguing, highly evocative and highly articulate too. The protagonists, Cati Delolme and Anne Reymann performed for the first time together in this event. Their interaction was brilliant with Cati delivering chants that not only belonged to her native region and country but also addressed North Africa, the trans-Caucasus, Arabia, Sephardic and Balkan among other ethnic styles. Her chants were melodramatic, at times poignant and her wistful delivery created an atmosphere that was balanced by Anne Reymann’s frantic, energetic but well-balanced dancing. It was an oddball mixture of French mime, modern improvised dance and polyphonic chants that was presented in a very stark manner. Both artistes wore very ordinary clothes but then, no one could also dispute that this also helped the audience appreciate their abilities which literally stood out in a building that is in itself quite stark and barren, despite being so much steeped in history. I am pretty sure that these two intelligent, pretty and very feminine performers can pursue even broader cultural frontiers in the future.

 

Lamusica, who hail from Cairo, Egypt offered a pleasant but nonetheless tantalizing guitar arrangement from Nader Sami and more experimental and unpredictable dance styles from Yasmine Raafat. Her dancing implied someone who is trying to break from the past. “Well, the dance and the taking off of my black vest was my way of conveying the burdens that Egyptian women face because of the way their societies view them. We cannot go out alone at night, most of us are still subject to what our men want and so on,” added Yasmine in a short conversation I had with her right after Lamusica’s performance. Nader’s guitar playing surprised those who were expecting more Arab-oriented tunes. He stood out not least because of his nimble Spanish influenced arrangements. “The guitar is a western instrument and so I felt that if I had to deliver something different on guitar that is why I went for Spanish styles. However midway through, Nader also fused western and oriental styles, thus complementing Yasmine’s sophisticated dancing which nonetheless did not ignore her Arabic roots. In one instance, she also delivered some belly-dancing, albeit in a less conspicuous manner. This is how Nader and Yasmine usually deliver when they don’t have a full band backing them. Perhaps it is also the best way to stimulate their creativity and improvisational abilities. Theirs is just a reflection of a movement that has revived, regenerated and redefined Egyptian roots music.

 

El-Funoun (leading workshop in picture above) were a different ball-game. They were the most conservative, the most colourful and joyful of the lot. They had reason to celebrate. This year marks the 25th anniversary since their inception. They were also the first Palestinian act to perform here for almost a decade. Back in 1995, Bustan Abraham, a brilliant band comprising both Palestinian and Israeli musicians did a couple of great shows at The University, just before they headed for Glastonbury to perform at the annual world-class festival that has now become synonymous with this historical place in southwest Britain. Theirs is a tale of survival thanks to their resilience, their foreign contacts, ranging from the studies that individual members undertook abroad, and their yearning to export their music and their culture all over the world. Their music has not changed that much and has essentially built upon old traditional dances and songs. Yet, their unprecedented popular recognition also owes itself to the troupe’s awareness of other neighbouring musical and dance styles. In their Friday performance, they integrated belly-dancing which essentially owes its origins to Egypt with their very own folkloric dabke dance forms, thus creating their own, native expression. Noora Baker, one of the troupe’s members. explained that her troupe owes its survival because it believed in itself and its community notwithstanding the great difficulties it has faced over the years. “We avoided presenting direct protest songs and instead we focused more on old family and community traditions,” added Baker, who also expressed admiration for the likes of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s efforts in exposing Middle Eastern music to the western world back in the early 1980s. Indeed, their presentation focused on wedding songs as on Zaffah, as well as religious songs like Embarak and Miriam and instrumental songs that projected the use of traditional Palestinian instruments like mijwiz, a reed instrument and the oud, the traditional Arabic lute.

 

Milledanze, on the other hand, explored various European folk styles and delivered them in a very popular but nonetheless intelligent manner. This Italian band swung from traditional native tunes, to Celtic styles, Slavic dances, old German tunes, all of which were practically aimed to entice the audience to dance. This is essentially typical of most folk concerts nowadays. The accent on dance music has become all the more important in recent years, as folk music, which has always been an undercurrent and an alternative genre in itself, has sought to remain popular, despite its very angular approach. Milledanze are just that. Their individual members are very well versed with the history and technicalities of the genre that they love, as well as other styles, notably classical and blues music. Attilio Tripodi’s guitar playing exuded various influences and academic skills. Simone Mongelli’s nimble percussion arrangements were likewise a product of his broad vision. He is equally well-versed with our own folk idioms, as he is with those of his native country. His MA thesis focused on Maltese Għana. Clarinetist Maja Musi provided the atmospheric arrangements and perhaps was most influential in the vast array of sounds that characterised Milledanze’s performances.

 

This performances, as well as the attendant seminar and workshops that were held in various schools were held by Inizjamed, with the support of the Euromed Youth Programme. Its aim, that is the empowerment of society through music and dance is most crucial considering our contemporary society that is changing very fast and is also very much liable to losing touch with its own identity. Audiences for these events weren’t exactly huge, but one hopes that at least, such a response would be a small step in creating greater awareness of our culture and our identity, which has not always intermingled appropriately with other cultures. 


For more information about Inizjamed click on the link below

 

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