Friday, 10 June 2016

Dance in the Gulf

Along with lots of interesting news of its participation in the Patron's Lunch, a parade of its dancers and teachers in London, a pop up event in Birmingham and other activities in Leeds and Ormskirk to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, the latest email newsletter from the Royal Academy of Dance links to an article in the Kuwait Times about Teni Matian, an RAD teacher who "helps girls in Kuwait learn to soar".

The reason I take an interest in the region is that I also blog about intellectual property and other legal issues in the Gulf. I am on the lookout for news about dance in the region because dance notations, musical scores, stage backdrops and even some props and costumes can be copyright works and dancers and musicians have the right in countries that are party to the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations to object to the filming, taping or broadcasting of their performances.

A lot of money is going into the arts as states in the Gulf seek to diversify their economies and that has resulted in the construction of new auditoriums for the performing arts. One of the most impressive is the Royal Opera House in Muscat where the English National Ballet performed Le Corsaire between 10 and 12 March 2016. Other companies that are scheduled to visit that venue include the Eifman Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. The Eifman Ballet will dance Anna Karenina (which Mel saw in Budapest last Monday) between 15 and 17 Dec 2016 while ABT will dance Giselle on 6 and 7 April 2017.

While there is a very well established national ballet in Egypt at the splendid Cairo Opera House where I once saw a performance of Act I of The Nutcracker I have not been able to find any professional ballet companies in the Gulf itself. I believe there was once a very good Iranian ballet but that has been forced underground and overseas (see Wikipedia Iranian National Ballet Company). I have not been able to discern a consensus among my Muslim friends as to whether ballet is compatible with Islam (any more than I have been able to detect a similar consensus among my Quaker friends whether it is compatible even with that faith), but ballet certainly seems to be taught to children in many Islamic countries and not just wealthy ones like Kuwait (see Gaza Ballet School 3 Jan 2016). It would be nice to think of some of Teni Martian's pupils making a career in dance.

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