Leila prepares the ceremony of death
She transcribes her grief and sings it through Ataaba
She digs out her mourning and her ululations
Shaking the dust off her throat
She gathers her men; tonight she will go on stage

US PREMIERE: Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour explores the practice of Islamic Shiite religious ritual through dance and the body. In this performance, Chahrour takes the stage with two musicians and Leila, a professional mourner whose role it is to deliver the lamentations and honor the departed at a funeral. Woven from traditional Ataaba song verses and the plaintive cries of bereavement, the work is a poetic elegy to a fading cultural heritage. Leila’s Death addresses the relationships between the body and religion, the mourner and the deceased, the sacred and the performed.

Chahrour studied in the theater department of the Lebanese University in Beirut, where he first began investigating his cultural religious heritage through art and performance. Following his training in Europe, he returned to his home in Lebanon to create a locally rooted identity for contemporary dance. His past works include On the lips snow (2009), Danas (profane/impurity) (2010), and Fatmeh (2014), where he first fully realized his artistic exploration of Shiite practices. He is currently continuing his studies at Saint Joseph University in Beirut.

Run time: 70 min

Travel support provided by Al Mawred al thaqafi-tejwal.