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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Dance at the heart of a European music festival

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In the center of a crowd waiting for its turn to dance, Amy Ramos stood up, took her tall, broad-shouldered frame down the aisles and walked out front in time with the music.

“Hi,” she said.

In front of a relatively small crowd, the music, by Laith Al-Saadi, struck an undulating rhythm. The crowd clapped, danced and screamed out the rhythm.

At the heart of this dance-driven music festival that has been coming to France for the past five years has been a feeling of connectedness and community.

About six hundred people — both dancers and non-dancers — attend the festival every year. The artists perform in the street outside a theater in Magdeburg, a port city in the northeast of France. Festival organizers first thought of starting the dance festival in 2015.

Dance is growing in France. Even in the field of fine arts, there is more attention to dance than there has been in a long time. In France, this festival has supported cultural projects and made it possible for budding dancers to be seen and heard.

Laith Al-Saadi was selected by the German artists’ collective NEVART to provide the music for the festival. NEVART is a multi-disciplinary organization that produces art and workshops in European cities such as Paris, Berlin and Beirut.

“We’re able to spread our work to different cultures in a different way,” Al-Saadi said.

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