Building cross-cultural connections by bringing vibrant international performers to the United States catalyzed by intense upheavals, Egyptian and Ukrainian performing artists are animating their nations’ personal, social, and public spheres. With creativity as a gathering point for discourse, they are challenging themselves, their communities, and the millennia-old cultures they celebrate, to renew and to change.
For its fourth season, Center Stage will bring five contemporary music and theater ensembles from Egypt and the Ukraine to tour in the United States between July and December 2018. The artists for Center Stage Season 4:
- Dina Elwedidi (Giza, Egypt) A sophisticated musical innovator, Elwedidi ravels the personal-political threads of Egyptian heritage and contemporary identity.
- Kurbasy (Lviv, Ukraine/U.S. debut) Tight vocal harmonies, resonant lyrics, and phantasmagoric visual imagery from the Carpathian mountains.
- Mohamed Abozekry & Karkadé (Cairo, Egypt/U.S. debut) Virtuoso oud prodigy convenes Egypt’s popular and classical music traditions, Sufi calls, and secular poetry with a new instrumental project.
- Teatr-Pralnia with CCA Dakh (Kyiv, Ukraine/U.S. debut) A rambunctious and audacious super-charged puppet cabaret asks ‘TseSho?/What’s That?’
- Youssra El Hawary (Cairo, Egypt/U.S. debut) A musical bellwether of everyday life, El Hawary’s indie sound captures the stories of Cairo and the alchemy of the Mediterranean basin.
Season 3 Ensembles
- Democratoz (Oran, Algeria/U.S. debut) Hard-grooving reggae, rai & rock from cosmopolitan Oran
- Ifrikya Spirit (Algiers, Algeria/U.S. debut) Tranced-out diwan sounds from Algiers, gathered under a big musical tent
- Istijmam (Oran, Algeria/U.S. debut) Gritty, intimate theater confronts the destiny of today’s Algeria
- Msafiri Zawose (Bagamoyo, Tanzania) Gogo power channeled by Tanzania’s charismatic musical scion
- Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar, Tanzania/U.S. debut) Renewed taarab reinvigorates Zanzibar’s syncretic signature sound
Season 2 Ensembles
- Arabesque (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam): Tradition-inflected contemporary dance evokes the rhythms of rural Vietnamese life re-imagined in an increasingly cosmopolitan present in The Mist;
- Fleur d’Orange (Casablanca, Morocco): Riveting solo movement by choreographer-dancer Hind Benali and high-energy live chaabi music trace the complexities of gender and identity;
- Hoba Hoba Spirit (Casablanca, Morocco): Offbeat and rebellious Marocc’n roll from one of the Maghreb’s best bands;
- Khumariyaan (Peshawar, Pakistan): Transfixing, get-up-and-dance, hyper-folk jams with deep Pushtoon roots;
- Poor Rich Boy (Lahore, Pakistan): Artful indie rock exposes the inner life of urban Pakistan with enigmatic lyrics, ukes, guitars and the occasional kazoo;
- Ribab Fusion (Agadir, Morocco): A big dose of Amazigh funk powered by a single (ribab) string; and
- Tri Minh Quartet (Hanoi, Vietnam): Sophisticated avant soundscapes binds electronica, European instruments, traditional Vietnamese zithers, and drums.
Season 1 Ensembles
- Arieb Azhar (Islamabad, Pakistan): Azhar leads a quartet of acoustic musicians in an eclectic mix of urban and folk-based songs grounded in Sufi and other humanist poetries from the subcontinent and Europe.
- BélO (Pétion-Ville, Haiti): A socially conscious singer-songwriter with a sophisticated sound, BélO and his band deliver a high-energy mix of Jazz, Worldbeat, Rock, Reggae and Afro-Haitian traditional rhythm known as Ragganga.
- Compagnie de Danse Jean-René Delsoin (Pétion-Ville, Haiti): Delsoin’s outstanding, vibrant dancers and drummers embody choreography that captures Haiti now --- raw and refined, spiritual, powerful, and precarious.
- Jogja Hip Hop Foundation (Yogyakarta, Indonesia): This sharp Javanese rap collective promotes tolerance and pluralism with hooks that meld global rhythms, gamelan music, ancient Javanese poetry and literature.
- Nan Jombang (Padang, Indonesia): Percussive, persuasive and explosive modern dance.
- noori (Lahore, Pakistan): One of Pakistan’s top pop bands, helped define Sufi-rock.
- Papermoon Puppet Theatre (Yogyakarta, Indonesia): In a country with world-renowned puppetry traditions, the young, expert artists of Papermoon are extending the form and creating works that imaginatively explore identity, society and Indonesia’s recent past.
- Ti-Coca & Wanga-Nègès (Port-au-Prince, Haiti): Masters of Haiti’s acoustic twoubadou (troubadour) tradition.
- Very Live (Karachi, Pakistan): The comedic trailblazers insist on pushing boundaries in a place where stand-up was virtually unknown as a performance genre.
- Zeb & Haniya (Lahore, Pakistan): This acclaimed singer-song writing duo paved the way for many female musicians active on the Pakistani music scene today.