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IDEA festival adds to Amman’s growing contemporary dance scene

By Hanna Davis - Sep 30,2021 - Last updated at Sep 30,2021

Dancers perform in ‘Wreck’ on September 24 at Ras Al Ain Hangar in Amman (Photo courtesy of Cecile Nougier)

AMMAN — Thirty-five artists from over 10 different countries are showcasing their talents at the International Dance Encounter Amman (IDEA) Festival, currently ongoing in Amman. 

The festival, which began September 8, is hosting a total of 27 events and will conclude on October 16, according to Xiaoman Ren, the festival’s assistant director. 

This year’s festival focuses on the capacity building of local artists, to “encourage local, smaller content creators to collaborate and create meaningful content for the Jordanian audience”, Ren told The Jordan Times. 

The festival hosts multiple workshops for developing artists and performers in Jordan. 

For this year, Ren said: “We have a series of workshops with some of the most experienced teachers in theatre coming to Jordan to teach and to work with Jordanian performers to create something together... and that’s something beautiful.” 

Ryuji Yamaguchi, a dancer, educator, choreographer and supporter of the IDEA Festival, spoke to the festival’s impact on Jordan’s growing dance community.

 “It is wonderful that we have experienced dancers and artists from abroad coming to provide their expertise and engage with the local dance team, but, in addition, this festival really puts effort into capacity building, both on an organisational level and on an artistic level,” Yamaguchi told The Jordan Times.

The hope, said Yamaguchi, is that the festival “will have a ripple effect in the dance scene and create a vibrant community of dance artists”. 

Ren said that she and her colleagues, Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh, Anas Abunahleh and Noor Abughazaleh, have organised the entire festival with a team of only 10 volunteers. They have also made the performances free of charge given the pandemic-related hardships many people currently face.

“We don’t want to burden people when they actually need something to bring them out of this difficulty, when they need something refreshing,” Ren said. “We think it [the festival] is best as a gift for people,” she added

Mohammad Qattan, a dancer from Jordan, said he “learned a lot” in his three performances in the festival: Crossing, Wreck and Hive. 

“Firstly, the festival brings the opportunity to learn,” Qattan said, “Second, to work with a group on something new; Third, to perform; and fourth, to start building a dancing career.” 

The IDEA festival runs in coordination with the Amman Contemporary Dance Festival, which occurs in the spring.

“The contemporary dance scene is growing. For the last 10 or 12 years, Amman Contemporary Dance Festival has been happening in the spring and now this idea festival is happening in the fall. It’s a wonderful cycle because we have two festivals evenly dispersed and we get to organise smaller events in between to pass the momentum on from one festival to another.”

The IDEA festival has also collaborated closely with the National Centre of Culture and Arts and Al Shams Threatre, according to Yamaguchi.

The performance schedule and tickets for the IDEA festival can be found on the festival’s website.

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