Want a chance to practise flamenco or brush up on cha-cha? Then head to Dubai this weekend.
Salsa, zouk, belly dancing, hip-hop, Brazilian samba and tango – take your pick and shake a leg with local and international performers at the sixth Dubai International Dance Festival, which begins tomorrow.
The four-day event, hosted by the Familia de la Salsa group in Dubai, celebrates all styles of dance with musical shows, workshops and parties. More than 100 artists from around the world will be showcasing 20 different dance styles, including salsa and cha-cha, which originated in Cuba, bachata from the Dominican Republic, flamenco from Spain and Bollywood-style from India.
“We travelled around the world to invite the best dancers for our festival,” says Chris Dissanayake, a co-organiser of the event. “This started off as a small one-day show in 2007 with only 50 dancers. We are seeing a huge appetite for all styles of dance here. This event brings them altogether. It pitches Dubai as a destination for such festivals.”
Dissanayake says they had 350 participants last year but decided to refine their selection process and invite the best from more than 30 countries to showcase their moves for their themed show this year. “There will also be a dance village where attendees can pick up merchandise and we are organising excursions around town for our guests,” he says.
Movers and shakers
The international line-up starts with Terry and Cecile from France, who specialise in Afro-Caribbean dances. The duo run Salsalianza, a dance school in Paris that teaches various dance forms such as zouk, bachata, modern jazz and ballet. The took their show Silencio on the road in Europe and the US and have gained accolades for their performances.
Mike Faya from Paris and his troop New Tribe will teach some of the moves they used in the movie Street Dance 2. The artist is known for fusing styles such as hip-hop, Afro-rumba and breakdance.
Among the resident artists is Amalia Megias, a flamenco dancer. “Flamenco was created when Arabs came to Spain more than 400 years ago,” says Megias, who is from Spain. “If you listen to this music, you will notice a lot of Arab beats.”
Megias, who teaches at the Capella Club Dubai Marina, is participating with a team of three, including a percussionist and an Arab singer. “The act is a surprise. But I can say it will be a mix of different styles.”
James Castro, who runs a dance studio in Media City, will be doing a mambo-Latin-jazz routine. “It is inspired by some of the old dancers from the 1960s,” says Castro. He believes the dance scene is in its infancy in UAE and says such events increase interest. “It inspires people to get into dance and gives artists the exposure they need.”
On Friday, a production titled Inspiration to Dance will recreate onstage the magic of some of the music world’s greatest stars, including Michael Jackson, Madonna and James Brown. The highlight of the evening will be the musical Salsa Fever – 100 years of Latin Music and Dance, which will take the audience through the history of the dance and its transformations, from the African roots of salsa, dating back to the 1400s, its bloom in Cuba, the rise of the Fania All-Stars salsa ensemble in the 1970s and the era of Romantica and Latin pop, with a finale based on its modern interpretation.
• The Dubai International Dance Festival starts at 9pm tomorrow and runs until Saturday. Workshops and shows will be held at various venues around the city. Visit www.dubaidancefestival.com for details. Tickets can be booked on www.platinumlist.com and at Ductac