70 Jewish and Arab artists, musicians, performers and dancers are taking part in
the annual Speaking Arts Conference,
which aims to create co-operation, dialog
and joint work between Jews and Arabs in the arts. Events
, workshops and classes
take place at the YMCA Jerusalem, the Beit Masia Theater and Gerard Behar
Center, with the opening and closing concert open to the public. The event was
initiated by Nadim Shiban of the Jerusalem Foundation and is supported by the
Jerusalem Foundation, YMCA Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Intercultural
This year, more than 70% of the participants are from Jerusalem
with most of the Arab participants from East Jerusalem. According to co-project
manager, Hanan Ohana, two thirds of participants are Jewish and one third Arab
owing largely to the fact that modern dance is a new phenomenon in the Arab
sector. However, the aim going forward is to have a balance of both. Hanan was
part of a committee of five who reviewed over 150 artist’s applications to take
part in the conference. This year’s event will feature more co-facilitation and
will build on relationships that were formed at last year’s conference and
meetings during the year.
The opening concert takes place at Beit Masia
Theater, and features for the first time on the same stage, critically acclaimed
Jewish performers Achinoam Nini better known as Noa and Gili Dor, with Arab
dancer Mona Mashi'l. The highlight of the closing concert at the YMCA auditorium
is a performance by the talented Arab singer, Amal Murkus.
participants will engage in group work on music, theater and movement. During
the day, Jerusalem's YMCA will host musical workshops led by Sameer Makhoul,
with Achinoam Nini and Gili Dor discussing musical dialog between the Arab and
Jewish worlds. A portion of the workshop will include a review of the life and
contribution of composer Muhammad Abdel Wahab.
The dance group Vertigo
will host a workshop on movement in the Gerard Behar Blaustein Civic Center.
Tony Award nominee and Bessie Award winner, Donald Byrd, will participate in
this seminar as part of his research in exploring the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. Byrd, the artistic director of Spectrum Dance The¬ater in Seattle, is
in Israel in the capacity of the American Academy in Jerusalem, a project of the
Foundation for Jewish Culture. “The fellowship will allow me the opportunity to
revisit, return to and build on my personal investigation of one of the most
disquieting and deeply saddening human disconnects,” says Byrd. “This time I can
do it not from afar, but at the center.”
The theater workshop will be hosted at
both the YMCA and at Psik Theater in Beit Masia. The group will be led by Hisham
Suleiman, a director, actor and playwright and founder of the Nazareth Fringe
Theater, and Shmuel Hadjes, actor and founder of Jerusalem's Psik Theater.
of the participants have encountered the other side and the conference is not
really about altering stereotypes. Instead it creates a platform for working
together on an ongoing basis. For Byrd, “the goal is to learn what allows people
to co-exist and what kind of things might facilitate that and encourage
engagement”. The Speaking Arts Conference takes place November 16th –
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