Dancing to the Boundless Beats of Resilience

The 14th edition of the International Dance Day Festival in Lebanon at LAU reunited international guests, performance art enthusiasts and the local dance community for a week of emotive movement and visual narratives.

By Sara Makarem

The 2024 edition of the IDDFL Gala featured 10 original dances and music scores.
The first piece of the event, The Journey, performed by faculty members as part of LAU’s centennial.
The festival reunited international guests, performance art enthusiasts and the local dance community.

As part of the LAU’s centennial events, this year’s edition of the International Dance Day Festival in Lebanon (IDDFL) was conceptualized under the theme Pulse of Resilience: Where do we start?

The festival’s six-day program of choreography and dance culminated with the event’s Gala, a performance of original pieces and scores marking LAU’s century of giving to the Lebanese community, at the Gulbenkian Amphitheater on April 26.

From April 22 to 27, the program incorporated workshops for the community and students on diverse contemporary dance techniques and styles at both campuses. The workshops were led by international guests, including Associate Professor of Dance Education Matthew Henley from Columbia University, US, and Assistant Professor of Dance at Marymount Manhattan, US, Catherine Cabeen, in addition to the university’s own performing arts team.


Founder and director of the IDDFL, Associate Professor of Dance Nadra Assaf, highlighted new features in this year’s edition, including community calls for the Gala auditions, original audiovisual compositions and a choreography feedback session for aspiring choreographers. “Since LAU’s grandest mission is to educate the future generations, the IDDFL has always stressed this endeavor,” added Dr. Assaf.   


“LAU’s 100-year history is proudly based on resilience,” said Dr. Robin Taleb, assistant dean at the School of Arts and Sciences, in his opening remarks at the Gala. “The artists decided to choreograph 10 pieces, all beating in tandem with the pulse of resilience,” he added.


On the country’s endurance, Bodies of Water, choreographed for the event by Cabeen, drew parallels between the strength and adaptability of water and that of the Lebanese people. Rise, and Rise and Fall and Recover, by Henley, conveyed their tenacity and ability to rise not in spite but because of all adversities.

In addition to dances depicting human fortitude and turmoil amid change were those that envisioned shaping a better tomorrow through education and artistic expression.

That was the message conveyed in The Journey, choreographed and performed by LAU’s Senior Instructor of Dance Volodymyr Panzhev, part-time instructors Sarah Fadel and Jimmy Bechara and Dr. Assaf, that celebrated LAU’s legacy and enduring impact. 

Echoing the university’s overarching centennial spirit for the year, Hanine expressed the alchemy of memory and imagination, of revisiting the past but looking ahead, hence the sub-theme Where do we start? which symbolized embarking on a better and brighter future, said Dr. Assaf.

The piece, performed by the LAU dance company was the product of a two-month collaborative work between Panzhev and Dr. Ashraf Droubi, composer and professor at the University of São Paolo, Brazil.


The Indian embassy was also a partner of this year’s festival. Choreographer and dance teacher Deepesh Hoskere, from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), presented Vande Mataram–The Hues of India, highlighting the synthesis of different cultures within the country, which contribute to its vibrant identity, much like Lebanon.

Dance icon Georgette Gebara and an array of dignitaries from the Indian Embassy in Lebanon were among the guests who attended the event.

To see the full list of workshops offered to students and the community, click here.