Beirut International Platform of Dance: Celebrating Women Choreographers

The highly anticipated BIPOD - Beirut International Platform of Dance 2018 opened yesterday at D BEIRUT WAREHOUSE in spectacular style, with a collaborative project, titled ‘We Women’, performed by the Barcelona-based professional contemporary dance company, Sol Picó.

In the presence of H.E. Mr. Marian Alexander Wrba, Austrian Ambassador to Lebanon; H.E Mr. Alex Lenaerts, Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon; Lynn Tehini Kassatly, representing the minister of Culture Dr. Ghattas Khoury; representant of the General Security head Major General Abbas Ibrahim; Ricardo Santos, the Chargé d'Affaires of the Spanish Embassy; Edward White, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Beirut; Kristin Smith, the cultural attaché at the United States Embassy; Dr. Edoardo Crisafulli, the director of the Italian Cultural Institute and Mani Pournaghi, the director of the Goethe-Institut Libanon.

Hailed by many as the queen of Spanish contemporary dance and choreography, Picó is known for producing exciting, energetic and daring works that embrace a rich mix of genres and invite audience participation.

In her performance, Sol Picó explored the role of women within today’s social structures, making it the ideal launch act for the 14th edition of BIPOD, which is flying the flag for female choreographers.

The project ushers in a rich and varied global program, running up to and including April 27, featuring 16 acts with dancers from around the world.

Organized by Maqamat/Beit El Raqs, this year’s edition of BIPOD has a special Italian focus, facilitated by partnerships with the Italian Embassy in Lebanon and MiBACT (Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism), and the Italian Institute of Culture – Beirut which are expected to enrich and further broaden the program.

Major performances from Italy include: an exhilarating exposé on the life of a star dancer from Cristiana Morganti, titled ‘Jessica & Me’ (April 17); ‘Trigger’, an innovative project created by the talented dancer and choreographer, Annamaria Ajmone (April 18); ‘R. Osa’, a fascinating, one-woman show by Turin-born performer Silvia Gribaudi (April 18); the choreographer, performer and filmmaker Jacopo Jenna’s mesmerizing ‘Choreographing Rappers’ (April 19); and the impressive ‘In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni’, performed by Aldes, a project for one of the founders of Italian contemporary dance, Roberto Castello.

Moultaqa Leymoun will once again run alongside BIPOD, showcasing and promoting contemporary dance from around the Arab World. Now in its 7th edition, this landmark celebration of Arab talent takes place from April 13 to 15 and will feature more than 20 artists from across the region.

Mia Habis, BIPOD’s artistic director, said that the decision to champion female choreographers was in keeping with global efforts currently underway to celebrate women’s achievements, while highlighting the challenges they still face today.

Omar Rajeh, founder and artistic director of Maqamat, agreed that dance, like other segments of the arts, had the power to bring about change and progress by exploring themes and subjects that encouraged society to ask questions of itself.

“Our only hope lies in culture, artistic work and the artists that open up new horizons and present visions and dreams for us,” he noted. “Every year we face the challenge of maintaining our integrity by presenting new works and experiences that are up to the expectations of both the festival and the public. We’re delighted this year to be offering a program on such a topical theme that is explored poignantly, but powerfully by a truly talented group of performers.”

BIPOD 2018 also features several talks, workshops, screenings and studio presentations, alongside an exhibition by the Lebanese photographer Myriam Boulos.

Alongside the festival of dance, Beirut is hosting the Board of Directors of the Advanced Performing Arts Project (APAP), which is set to convene during BIPOD 2018. Maqamat/Beit El Raqs is an associated partner of APAP, which is an international network comprising 11 cultural organizations from across Europe.

In addition, BIPOD 2018 presents the Award for Life Achievement to Mrs. Georgette Gebara, a crucial figure for the establishment and development of dance in Lebanon and a dance militant who never let a bomb get in her way to achieve her passion. The event will be held on Monday April 16 at Sursock Museum.