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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Building Bridges—Muslim Stories

Amkoullel and Yacouba Sissoko. Photo: Mike Benigno
Under the programming umbrella of Global BAM, BAM has had a long and dynamic history of presenting transnational events that connect artists and audiences from around the world. From the annual DanceAfrica Festival to the countless international artists who headline the Next Wave Festival and Winter/Spring Season every year, BAM is committed to serving as a forum not only for excellent art across disciplines, but also for innovative work that furthers cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.

Presenting the work of artists from the Muslim world has been a particularly important part of this legacy. World music icons Youssou N’Dour (Senegal) and Rokia Traoré (Mali) headlined the Nonesuch celebration during the 2014 Next Wave Festival. Mic Check: Hip-Hop from North Africa and the Middle East (2013) showcased the growing hip-hop scene in those regions with energetic performances by such artists as Amkoullel (Mali), Deeb (Egypt), El Général (Tunisia), and Shadia Mansour (Palestine/UK). Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas, BAM’s 2009 partnership with Asia Society and NYU Center for Dialogues, engaged with audiences through an academic and policy conference as well as mainstage, film, and visual arts components. And, in 1996, Anglo-Punjabi alt-rock band Cornershop paired with Pakistani Muslim devotional ensemble the Sabri Brothers in a groundbreaking double bill.
Youssou N'Dour. Photo: Jack Vartoogian
This fall, with support from the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, BAM is proud to build on this history by launching Muslim Stories: Global to Local, a two-year initiative that will feature the vibrant range of performing and cinematic arts being produced by artists from contemporary Muslim cultures and communities. Muslim Stories will include rich programming for audiences of all ages and interests and from across the world—from Senegal to Indonesia, as well as in communities from the United Kingdom to Sri Lanka. “We believe that performance is an ideal entry point for cross-cultural exploration and that providing context for artists, art forms, and perspectives is key to enhancing understanding,” says BAM Executive Producer Joseph Melillo. “Muslim Stories will bring to life the cultural diversity and complexity of the Muslim world through its rich contemporary art forms, too long ignored in our country.”

The first Muslim Stories presentation will be Dream’d in a Dream, from New York-based Seán Curran Company and Kyrgyz folk music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus, who met during a DanceMotion USASM (a program of the US Department of State and BAM) residency in the Kyrgyz Republic. Dream’d in a Dream is a particularly auspicious series kick off—it allows audiences to engage in a musical genre uncommon to New York City, and it demonstrates the intriguingly beautiful results of two disparate cultural traditions coming together. From Dec 2—5, Burkina Faso choreographer and Brooklyn transplant Souleymane Badolo performs Yimbégré (“beginning”) at the BAM Fisher, exploring the tension between roots and aspirations. Thanks for joining us.

Dream'd in a Dream comes to the BAM Harvey Theater Wednesday, October 7, and tickets are still available.

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