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Beirut Fever: Dance and music show raises funds for children


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From left: Nay Mouawad, Labib El Choufani, and Mohammad Abdeen.


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Mouawad performs the opening dance of the show.


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Beirut Fever ballerinas fine-tune their moves during a rehearsal.


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The Beirut Fever dancers at the end of the show.


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A group photo of the dancers and organizers.

Click any image to view all five pictures.

September 3, 2008—

This summer, a group of graduates from LAU and other universities organized Beirut Fever, an international dance and live music show aimed at highlighting Lebanese talents while raising money to support the Union for Protecting Childhood in Lebanon.

Having paid a visit to the Fanar Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, two communication arts graduates, Labib El Choufani ‘07 and Nay Mouawad ‘07, and Mohammad Abdeen, an LIU graduate, were shocked by the appalling conditions the inmates were living in, and decided to help.

El Choufani, the event director, said that after visiting the center, they decided to raise funds through their forthcoming show, and channel the money via UPEL. The latter is an umbrella organization, including the Fanar Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, which supports ill-treated and delinquent children in Lebanon.

To the independent group of young graduates, even securing funds for the show itself was a challenge. Everyone contributed a little, said Abdeen. “We had zero budget,” El Choufani explained. “Mohammad, Nay and I paid the theater fees. Madame Georgette Gebara and Arthur Murray gave us their dance studios and dancers for free. We had eleven sponsors that covered everything from makeup and hair to costumes,” he added.

Beirut Fever premiered on July 31 in Masrah Al-Madina. For four days, it was carried out with great professionalism, said Dr. Mona Knio, an Arts and Communication associate professor at LAU. Almost all the performances drew capacity crowds.

Mouawad chose and adapted 13 popular and classical choreographies. Beirut Fever was also the title of the opening dance, presenting a medley of different genres—oriental, ballet, Latin, break-dance, hip-hop, modern and neo-classical. Other international pieces such as Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, and Step Up were performed for the first time by Lebanese dancers, with live music.

The team organizing the event was deeply thankful to LAU faculty and staff for their support. “Dr. Mona Knio helped us a lot in the light design and talked with Masrah Al-Madina to take good care of us. Mr. Nagy Souraty supervised the dance [activities] and gave his opinion about the performance. Ms. Hala Masri helped us to do a better coverage of the entire event. Dr. [Tarek] Na’was also helped and encouraged us by coming to the premiere,” said El Choufani.

Being the lead dancer and the dance director was extremely stressful yet rewarding to Mouawad, who participated in ten of the performances. She, along with El Choufani and Abdeen, wanted to prove that “in Lebanon, there are real talents that can perform the hardest choreographies very professionally.”

Mouawad has been already accepted to the prestigious dancing school Steps on Broadway and she will be going to New York in October to get a dancing diploma. She considers Beirut Fever an opportunity to be introduced to the Lebanese public. “Organizing such a huge event was a tremendous challenge for every one of us, but it improved our skills and boosted our self-confidence,” said Mouawad.

El Choufani sees his experience with Beirut Fever as enriching in the sense that it has defined his future. He is currently getting ready for his M.A. in production design for TV and film at Kingston University in London, and after coming back to Lebanon, he wants to stage Chicago: The Musical in Beirut. “I’m seriously planning to get the license and work on it with Lebanese dancers, actors and musicians,” he said.


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