From the Nile to the Guadalquivir
Dance, music and poetry from Egypt and Al-Andalus
Nesma Al-Andalus Dance Company
Guest Artist: KHAMIS HENKESH
East and West:
Tradition and modernity of a common heritage, The Dance.
Premiered in 2002
The golden dreamscape which decorates the visions of Al-Andalus from more than a millennium ago has never disappeared from the imagination and the myth of the Spaniards.
Not by imaginary, it ceases to be a heritage that we are taking up from the depths of our collective and personal history. Although tonight when the curtain rises, the miracle of its embodiment will have been performed on the stage of a theater.
“Poetry means everything to the Arab peoples”, said the famous Arab scholar E. García Gómez. The exalted poets from throughout history, Arab and Andalusi alike, thread through the handiwork of dance, setting the tone, giving meaning to and mapping the path “From the Nile to the Guadalquivir”.
With the idea of sharing the dance and folklore of Arab countries as well as the Hispanic-Arabian dance and music that is at the root of Spanish folklore, the Al-Andalus Danza company made up of Spanish dancers was created, following the lines of the painstaking research and study done by the sage masters who lived in the glorious age of Cairo around the middle of the twentieth century.
We have here dance, music and poetry together to tell a story. A story that we take up again from the depths of Pharaonic antiquity and that, by way of the splendours of Baghdad, the annals of Harun al Rachid and the Thousand and One Nights, pervaded the coastal area of the Mediterranean with classical grace and Oriental refinement following the Muslim extension. A story that links the Cordoba Omeyas with the Persian and Byzantine civilizations and that, after mixing with the subtle air of Sierra Morena was to be recreated with the invention of the zejel which in addition to becoming popular in Arab countries gave rise to the Andalusi music and to the dances now gathered here and performed on the banks of the river Nile. And from Egypt, the dance and musical centre of that half-Oriental and multi-ethnic Koine, we also present an assortment of ancient dances and contemporary adaptations of historic dances that show great modernizing evolutionary force.
We must not forget one other source of inspiration: the medieval fusion of Arabian poetry (casida) with Spanish song (moaxaja) which paved the way for Andalusi zejel and which today still flows with love among Magreb countries and in the Near East, where it inspired new choreographies that now come back to us in this performance of “From the Nile to the Guadalquivir”.
I write from Magerit (Madrid), the city founded in the ninth century by Mohammed I the Emir of the Cordoban Omeyas, a time when Oriental music was not a fad or a fusion but rather the music of the Spaniards of that time, as it always would be, transforming and evolving into what we now call Spanish music or Spanish dance.
Thus, we are not before the performance of just one more fad of ethnic music nor of multiculturalism at the whims of the industry which culture imposes on us through the West and globalization. Rather, we are before a beautiful and meticulous work that has recovered and recreated our very own distinguishing marks and that, through music and dance, have only just begun to be unearthed.
Much more than a bastardized reduction which could be called “belly dancing” and infinitely more than an erotic distraction or foreign folklore. Clichés will burn in the holy fire of music and dance so that we may once again see the grace and elegance of an ancient and noble Oriental foundation.
Soloist dancer: Nesma
Dimitri Psonis- Oud
Abdelselam Naiti – Qanoun
Vicente Molina – Ney
Zahriou Abdelaziz – Violin
Emad Amin – Bendihir, Percussion
David Mayoral – Req, Percussion
Osama Jebari – Voice, Poetry
Khamis Henkesh – Egyptian Tabla Player
Encarnación Ortega – Andalusian dance
Mohamed Abdel-Menoem – Oriental dance
Salah Abdel-Menoem – Egyptian Folklore
Production assistant: Teresa lnga
Production: Caté Soler
Artistic and documentary advisor: Francisco Almazán
Original music “Del Nilo al Guadalquivir”: Ahmed Abdel-Fattah
Lighting design: José Casado
Artistic director David Larente
Direction and Choreography: Nesma, Julia Salmerón