IMAGINE Workshop and Concert Series breaks down barriers
Some 200 students, faculty and alumni take part in the first of a multidisciplinary art series, promoting gender equality and human rights.
From the alleyways of Shatila Camp to the red carpet and limelight of Beirut Campus, LAU artists found a platform to fight social injustice and gender inequality under the umbrella of IMAGINE Workshop and Concert Series (IWCS), from October 19-26.
Reflections, Equality and Human Rights, under the artistic direction of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Seba Ali, combined all arts disciplines with the aim of conveying a powerful message against social injustice. Joining the program was internationally acclaimed American violinist Salley Koo, whose first trip to Lebanon took her to the Shatila refugee camp where she and Ali played for Syrian refugee children as part of LAU’s outreach platform, in collaboration with NGO Basmeh and Zeitooneh.
“As a musician you are always trying to absorb and transmit to different parts of humanity,” Koo said of her visit to Shatila. “I always feel more connected to and sad about children. They are so happy and alive, but then they live in a displaced situation, which is heartbreaking.”
An integral part of IWCS’s program, outreach events encourage LAU students to engage with the community. “Through IMAGINE, we strive to prepare the mechanism for our students to volunteer and work with NGOs outside of LAU,” said Ali.
The program included a panel that brought together Associate Chair of the Department of Communication Arts Nadra Assaf, Koo and visiting researcher at the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World Rania Jaber in an hour-long passionate discussion about performance as a tool and the evolution of female artists throughout history.
The series concluded with Reflections, a cross-disciplinary event that combined music, dance, theater, fashion and an art show revolving around a single theme: gender equality and human rights, in collaboration with WellSpring Learning Community. “I believe that all the art disciplines complete each other, and I wanted to have everyone on board as much as possible,” Ali said of the diversified program.
The evening opened with two plays directed by WellSpring drama teachers, Bassam Amine and Denise Dewhurst, and performed by students. The first, a dark comedy entitled “Us and Them” portrayed growing mistrust among a group of wanderers who end up fighting over a piece of land. Equally dark, the second play, “Inside the House of Alba,” addressed the oppression of women both within the family sphere and in society.
A music and dance performance by Koo and Ali followed, a tribute to female composers whose talents suffered injustices because of their gender. “Women are always judged. Sometimes you feel you’re in a maze. A woman is always multitasking and must excel in all that she does,” Ali said. “With Ms. Sarah Fadel’s choreography and our LAU dancers, we were able to make the struggles of women more concrete to the audience.”
Reflections concluded with a gender-fluid fashion show by LAU student Aniss Ezzedine that aimed at advocating diversity and equality, and an art show that incorporated paintings, photographs and ceramics, one gif and a short film. The events in the series involved six faculty members from Beirut and Byblos, some 200 students, including 90 students from the Fine Arts who took part in the art exhibition.
Spread over a period of four months ending in March, IWCS comprises 22 events ranging from concerts, art shows, panel discussions and workshops, to outreach and education programs. The second of four residencies, Tell Your Tales, will kick off on November 20-24.
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