Night in Beirut presents dance and music from the Arab Levant. Dancing to Georges Lammam’s intricate, evocative violin, L’Emir Hassan Harfouche performs original choreographies, exhibiting his solo urban style dabke with signaturehorse step, scissor step, toe/heel step, and foot circles.
The first piece, Emir al Amara, brings us to a Beirut nightclub. A mehbej rhythmically pounds and grinds coffee beans with cardamom, inspiring a man to dance. Wearing a princely Bedouin abaya, L’Emir Hassan performs to a songabout welcoming the Emir:
You are Prince of Princes. It is very fitting for you to be Prince. Everyone is waiting for you to signal whatever it is you wish for us to do.
Next, Echoes of the Emir fuses rhythms from the darbukka hand drum with the Lebanese form of dabke. Dabkeisoften performed in circling lines, the highlight of celebrations throughout the Levant, possibly danced since the Phoenicians.
The final piece is Ana la’layky, Ziad Rahbani’s song for his beloved country, Lebanon:
…you will never find anyone who loves you like I do…I was so struck with your beauty I forgot my own name.
The music, played by virtuoso violinist Georges Lammam, is recognizably Lebanese. It opens with improvised Arab taqsim, modulating through microtonal scales, expressing beautifully ornamented melody. His ensemble plays microtonal keyboard, oud, violin, and percussion on the darbukka, tabl baladi, duf frame drum, dahola bass hand drum, tura finger cymbals, and riqq tambourine.
L’Emir Hassan Harfouche was born in Baalbeck, Lebanon, home to a famed international dance festival featuring dabke, the folkloric dance of the Levant.He trained with choreographers Mirwan and Wadia Gerrar and with Kerham Ddjerdjian, founder of stylized, urban dabke. Hassan has performed globally and in the films “King of the Gypsies” and “Protocol.”
Georges Lammam, Palestinian from Lebanon, is a recording artist, composer, Artistic Director for the Georges Lammam Ensemble, and a featured artist with Ancient Future, Wobbly World, Shabazz and Pena Pacha Mama Group. Both Mr. Lammam and L’Emir Hassan Harfouche are on faculty at the Mendocino Music and Dance Camp.
July 6 & 7
Dance Origin: Lebanon
Title: Night in Beirut: Emir al Amara; Echoes of the Emir; Ana la’layky
Photo: RJ Muna