Written by: Tamara Haddad

AMMAN – Recently, Jordan witnessed a unique celebration of dance, dancers and performing art enthusiasts. Between the 22nd and 29th of August the International Dance Encounter Amman (IDEA) was presented in Jordan in its first version. IDEA is a newly formed annual platform for contemporary dance established by Studio 8. In its first edition, 8 cutting-edge dance performances were conducted including 46 artists coming from 18 different countries.  

Scene from Tempus Fugit, Germany.

According to Abdul Hadi Abu Nahleh director of the festival, scarcity of opportunity in the arts, both on an educational and occupational level, is a major factor that is holding the creative potential back.  Therefore, the platform created by IDEA for artistic presentation, education and collaboration is a direct response to the performing arts community’s wants and needs. 

The festival presented a rich program of world class performances both indoors and outdoors. The international participating companies provided a spectrum of various styles. Performed in Al Shams Theater, the program highlights included Tempus Fugit from Germany, The Gyre from Belgium, Adspectus from Greece, Romeo Romeo Romeo from Switzerland and WIP for One from China. Through these performances, the abstract and conceptual were displayed as well as the more intense and theatrical.

Scene from Romeo, Romeo, Romeo, Switzerland.

The festival also held public masterclasses, workshops and talks in its programme. An interesting educational experience was by Quo Vadis, a Greek dance company whose work is inspired from the famous graphic artist M C Escher’s artwork. The performance Adspectus, in which dancers completely covered in white bodysuits moved in relation to geometric cubes on stage, was choreographed to showcase the playful connection between dimensions and perspective. The company’s specific Escher-like approach in choreography was shared in a 2 hour masterclass the day after. Through mental and physical exercises, the participants were introduced to form and element legibility in dance composition and attempted to translate some of Escher’s drawings to dance choreography.

Another successful two-night event was the highly energetic production Romeo Romeo Romeo by Swiss-American choreographer Joshua Monten. The audience, who were seated on stage, were on the tips of their toes as the charming Romeos (three men and a woman wearing a prosthetic moustache) interacted with them in their search for meeting and mating. Monten also gave a workshop focusing on the opening choreography of the performance and explored with participants how gender can be essentially performative.

Scene from Wujoud Wa Hudoud, Jordan.

It was also of high importance to see Jordan participating in two original productions. The productions were installation-based and came in collaboration with sound and light artists from Europe and West Asia. The brave 8-man performance choreographed by Anas Nahleh and directed by Abdul Hadi Abu Nahleh, Wujoud Wa Hodoud was included in the festival’s schedule. This performance spoke of personal stories of land, nation, division and struggle. It was a piece that held cultural references in its Dabke-inspired choreography while also celebrating the individuality of its dancers. Studio 8 also presented Time Out of Time which was an exciting interplay between choreography and audiovisuals. 

Scene from symposium. 

Xiaoman Ren, assistant director of IDEA, stated that talking about the art form and creating conversation is of equal importance to attending a dance performance. As an integral part of the festival, a 3-day symposium took place connecting experts and educators with aspiring artists. The symposium resulted in a scheme to uplift the contemporary dance scene in Jordan. Aside from the symposium, IDEA hosted workshops and master classes by renowned choreographers that included technique lessons and helped instructors share their specific approach in dance with participants.

Scene from workshops. 

IDEA was organized by Studio 8, in collaboration with Malahi Entertainment INC and other national and international organizations. The team expressed their happiness for the success of the festival and ensured their ambitions in creating more Jordanian dance in the near future.

About guest writer:

Tamara Haddad is an architect and a dancer from Jordan. Her dancing background includes classical ballet, experimental contemporary and folklore dance. Seeking beauty in all mediums, and finding herself in multidisciplinary art forms, she attained scholarships in Europe to help deepen her understanding of dance happening in the world now. Tamara is currently studying contemporary  dance in Italy.

Read more from Guest Writers.
Read our full review of Wojoud Wa Hodoud.
Image courtesy of IDEA Festival.