Lebanese-born Abdel-Halim Caracalla established the Caracalla Dance Theatre through an era when chasing a profession in the expressive arts wasn’t the standard.
Beginning with only ten dancers in 1968, Caracalla realized his dream, regardless of the societal stigmas of this time along with the civil war of 1975-1990.
The 80-year-old became a pioneer of dancing in the Middle East, taking folk forms such as dabke from conventional weddings into the point.
“I had been born into a society which had no connections to dancing,” he informed Euronews. “Pursuing a career in dance wasn’t acceptable, for a guy or [a] girl, however, I was determined.”
Abdel-Halim obtained funding from several leaders in the Middle East area like King Hussein of Jordan, also, to support from political bodies such as the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.
In 2008, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, conferred Caracalla together with the Purchase of Independence, in recognition of his contribution to the arts from the Middle East.
Classic & modern
Abdel-Halim established a “special development in Arab dancing culture,” by combining traditional Lebanese dance types with global procedures, so he says that his daughter, Alissar, who’s the organization’s choreographer.
“It is the warmth of the Middle East, the audio, the colors, the textures – but you have the method of the West,” she states. “You want that technique. You can not take a folkloric measure and set it on point and perform a two-hour performance with only a folkloric step. You have to have the ability to elaborate that dancing form.”
Alissar’s sibling, Ivar, can also be involved with the company, as a business manager.
Both are eager to maintain their dad’s rich storytelling tradition living whilst embracing modernity.
“[In] 2020, what is contemporary. We must push shortly,” muses Ivan. “Another may say,’ No, we must keep our individuality, we must maintain our civilization.’ We do not want to veer too far off our origins.”
Whilst staying anchored in tradition, the Caracalla firm has also been made to move with the times.
Naturally, its latest challenge is to accommodate the effect of COVID-19.
The troupe’s last performance, before the pandemic struck, was the mythical romance”Jamil and Bouthayna”, in Al Ula in Saudi Arabia.
To guarantee all dancers are all set to come back to the point once the time comes, however, Zoom exercise sessions have been held regularly.
Lebanese Isabelle perfected her ballet movements in Caracalla rehearsals.