Oud virtuoso/singer Maurice Chedid and the directors of Mosaic Dance Theater Company (MDTC), Samara Adell and Morgiana Celeste Varricchio, have a long history of collaboration together as individuals, and also under the auspices of the Company.
Samara and Maurice began their association as featured artists in the thriving Arabic nightclub scene of the 1980s-90s. Their personal collaboration as dancer and musician has continued, and in 2008, Samara produced a CD, Ya Samara, of new music composed by Maurice, which she commissioned specially for this album.
Morgiana Celeste began her collaborations with Maurice with her solo performance of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves, which toured for Lincoln Center during 1996-97, and subsequently toured to schools in the New York metropolitan area for 10 years. In 2000, Morgiana and Maurice collaborated as storyteller and composer respectively, to create Banat el Emir or The Dancing Princesses. Samara was part of the creative team as choreographer, and all three performed in the off-off Broadway production which featured an on-stage 4-piece Arabic band, playing the score.
We celebrate these fruitful artistic associations by featuring the music of Maurice Chedid in our major New Jersey concert of Middle Eastern dance and music for Fall of 2017. The concert, with choreography by Samara (MDTC’s Artistic Director of Dance), will be performed at Westminster Arts Center at Bloomfield College (dates TBA), with 5 dancers, Maurice, and 3 additional Arabic musicians. A NYC engagement is planned for March 2018 (dates TBA).
The concert highlight will be the double premiere MDTC’s new dance work set to Maurice’s new composition in the classical muwashshah genre accompanied by a live musical performance. In addition, the on-stage music ensemble will provide the other dance pieces with enhanced accompaniment to pre-recorded CD tracks, and the musicians will be featured in live musical interludes of Maurice’s songs and instrumental pieces. The CD tracks for the dance pieces will be excerpts from the Banat El Emir score and from the Ya Samara CD, offering the audience a diverse program of Middle Eastern dance styles through Maurice’s compositions: Lebanese dabke, Egyptian sai’idi, baladi, raks sharqi, as well as the classical muwashshah. Maurice will accompany Samara in a live taksim (improvisation) for oud and dancer. He will also provide live accompaniment for Morgiana as she tells the folktale of Mohammed the Muallim. ensemble.
Samara’s dance works have been described as “virtuosic” by renowned dance critic Robert Johnson. Having worked as a star performer with top Arabic musicians in 5-star venues in the Middle East, she is versed not only in the varied folkloric dance styles and character details of the region, but also in the nuances and emotion, which bring the soul of the people to the dance.
The energy created by live music accompanying Middle Eastern dance is palpable, and everyone benefits – dancers, musicians, and not least, the audience. A theatrical concert of Middle Eastern music and dance allows the public to relish what they are already familiar with or to discover these two exciting artistic disciplines.