Al-Bahira presents contemporary, theatrical, and traditional folkloric dances rooted in cultures of the Middle East and surrounding regions.

Al-Bahira Dance Theater is dedicated to high-quality presentation, preservation, and education about the dances and music of the Middle East, North Africa, Persia, Turkey and surrounding areas. We celebrate these ever-evolving art forms, as relevant today in the U.S. as in their lands of origin. Employing creative storytelling and theatrical dance elements, Al-Bahira’s unique approach is contemporary yet deeply respectful of the rich traditions and cultural context of the original forms.

Al-Bahira engages in the local community--providing cultural entertainment (e,g, representing Egypt at Festival of Nations, presenting for other cultural events), as well as programming and outreach for women of all ages and cultural groups, and for underserved audiences in the upper midwest.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

In June 2012, Al-Bahira Dance Theater presented "Ifrita Helwa", an original dance-play based in traditional Egyptian and American stories and inspired by the 1949 Egyptian film, “Afrita Hanem” at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. The production featured contemporary and theatrical dances derived from traditional dance and classical music of Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iran (Persia), and involved collaboration between Al-Bahira artists, choreographer Mirah Ammal, guest artists Derek Phillips and John Munger, and guest choreographer Laurel Victoria Gray. Ifrita Helwa was made possible in part by a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and through the support of individuals like you!

Al-Bahira has also hosted the TC Raks! Dance Festival since 2010--an annual weekend of workshops and shows to bring in world-class artists and to educate, highlight and celebrate the dance and music of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa and Central Asia.

Looking forward: Goals for 2014 and beyond:

Creating a creative space: In June 2014, Al-Bahira lost our rehearsal home of 7 years with the sudden closure of the Ritz Theater and Studio. As we work with short term solutions for our rehearsal, class and event needs, we are beginning the process to find a new and more permanent home, with an eye to interacting with, being a part of, and offering continued opportunities for a broader cultural, dance, and artisitic community in Minnesota.

Advancing the mission-October 4 show: Al-Bahira was invited to participate in a 5-week dance series in Maplewood. Each of the five companies presented will produce a full-evening show on one of the weekends. As we prepare for the October 4 show, Al-Bahira will be raising funds to help cover the costs of rehearsal, musicians, and other show elements.

2015-16 Season: The company will also be working toward other artist and cultural collaborations for a new theatrical dance-play production planned for the 2015-16 season.

In 2015 we will also plan to provide additional opportunities for dancers in the mid-west to study with experts in the field.

We will be working toward collaboration and outreach for a program to help bring the healing power of dance to an underserved population of women and girls.

About Al-Bahira: Artistic director Mirah Ammal’s fascination with the central role dance, music, and oral tradition occupy in the culture and day-to-day lives of the Middle Eastern peoples guides the group toward creative theatrical works with an organic, story-based tone. The stories, humor, drama and beautiful dances are enjoyed by fans of all ages.

Al-Bahira Dance Theater’s mission:

  • Present and preserve the art through high-quality, artistic works rooted in the authentic dance, music, and storytelling arts of the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, Iran and surrounding regions.
  • Provide education about Middle Eastern dance, music and cultures for our students and the general public, to foster respect, understanding and appreciation of the cultures of origin.
  • Create fully accessible works that present the form as a relevant, living, and ever-evolving art and a part of the daily lives and cultural stories of the people.
  • Use the dance to empower women and girls of all ages, body types, abilities, socio-economic statuses and cultural backgrounds, fostering cross-cultural community and appreciation of female strength, art and form.

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