Sunday, July 29, 2012

Come September

The Paradise of Children
Photo by Bob Greenwald

MDTC will open its 2012-2013 season on September 9, 2012, with Folklore and Fantasy, presented by the WAE Center at Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ.  The program will feature favorites from MDTC’s diverse repertory, including a Lebanese dabke, shikhatt dance from Morocco, a Turkish Rom dance, and a “harem fantasy.”  In addition, the Company will premier The Paradise of Children by Nathaniel Hawthorne in the concert’s opening spot. This dance/story theater presentation of the story of Pandora’s box is adapted and directed by Morgiana Celeste Varricchio, MDTC’s Producing Artistic Director, and choreographed by Samara Adell, the Company’s Artistic Director for Dance.  Also choreographed by Samara, and premiering as the program’s finale, is an awalim-style dance from Mohammed Ali Street in Cairo.  Like New York City’s Greenwich Village, Mohammed Ali Street is the home of singers, poets, musicians, storytellers, and dancers who often performed in the coffee houses and clubs of this world-famous entertainment hub. The production features Mosaic dancers Samara, Morgiana Celeste Varricchio, Nina Brewton, Kendra Dushac, Mary Susan Sinclair-Kuenning, joined by Erin Pellecchia, and Syrena Nikole Hanna. Popular Arabic singer and oud virtuoso Maurice Chedid, master tabla player Gamal Shafik, and violinist/singer Elias Sarkar will provide on-stage musical accompaniment.
As part of MDTC’s commitment to serving all populations, the Company and the WAE Center of West Orange, NJ have joined forces in a special collaboration to bring a unique aspect of diversity to the program.  The WAE Center, under the leadership of Marilyn Schneider, its Founding Director, is an alternative learning center under the auspices of the Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled, helping individuals with disabilities find the spark within by providing an environment for participants to learn, create, express themselves, and foster meaningful relationships. Mosaic directors Morgiana Celeste and Samara, working with the staff at the WAE Center, will be teaching workshops in Middle Eastern dance to students of the WAE Center, who will perform a short choreography during the concert.  Luna Stage, a professional theater company also of West Orange and critically acclaimed for producing thought-provoking new and classic plays, is  also a part of this special collaboration.  Founded in 1992 by Jane Mandel, Artistic Director, part of Luna’s mission is to collaborate with artists of multiple disciplines and partner with the community “to illuminate the diverse perspectives of our society.”  

Spring Season 2011-2012

 MDTC enjoyed a busy spring season for its arts-in-education assembly programs. Performances of From Cairo to Istanbul, which tours for Young Audiences of NJ and Eastern PA, took the company to schools throughout both states.  A February performance at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts included students from the Academy’s art school sketching the dancers in motion.  The photo at right shows one of the artists in action.  Afterwards, Mosaic dancers Samara Adell, Morgiana Celeste Varricchio, Nina Brewton, and Kendra Dushac all had the opportunity to view the sketches.
 The Company was delighted to return to Lincoln Center’s Meet-the-Artist program, in February, and then again in April, with Middle Eastern Dance Peace, which played in Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater.  Dancers, Samara, Morgiana Celeste, Nina,  Kendra, and Dianna Dwyer performed dances from Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.  The program included a solo “djinni” dance by Samara, a folktale from Oman performed by Morgiana, and an interactive dance lesson led by Samara for enthusiastic audience members who joined her on stage.
MDTC closed its 2011-12 season with two appearances in New York City.  On June 24, the Company took part in the Alvin Ailey Extension World Dance Celebration Performance at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.  Dancers Samara, Morgiana Celeste, Nina, Kendra, and Mary Susan Sinclair-Kuenning performed Samara’s choreography of Fantasie Orientale.  The following Friday, June 29, the dancers, all involved in six-hour days of class during Samara’s five-day Master Workshop in Middle Eastern Dance, participated in Samara’s gala evening, with Fantasie Orientale, El Moulid, and were joined by Syrena Nikole Hanna and Erin Pellecchia to present a special sneak preview excerpt from The Paradise of Children, which will premiere in September 2012 in its entirety. (Photos by Bob Greenwald.)