REVIEW: Layl (Night)

The dance! The dance, the dance, the dance, the dance.
With only 5 performers on stage, simple props, withheld words, and dim lights, the performance told a beautiful tale of love and separation. Beautiful was the right word. The performance talked about tragedy but in such a beautiful way.

This performance was different from the shows that capture people’s attention by giving accessive stimuli. 5 people filled the stage from the start to finish. They were wearing black clothes and no stage props used exuberant colors. This made a really grave and chic look to the performance by emphasizing every movement of people on stage, their flesh as the only glowing and colored thing moving on stage in the dark. The show started with a female performer with a powerful voice singing what this performance will be about. Quoted, it was “a show about the fatal struggle of lovers struck by distance and parting its dancers are lovers who have refused to let separation dry their tears”, and the song proceeded to state that the show is about the “victims of love” who “died of longing”, “died crucified”, “were slaughtered”, “committed suicide”, and other forms of horrible deaths. Then it was said that in love, there is “desire and disease, there are the seeds and the bubbles of a pool in rain, there is the stability of one who is anchored, there is agitation and turmoil”, and so on.

As can be seen even from these short quotes, the rush of poetic and sincere images was poured at the very start. It was a very clever way to start the show because it not only immediately seized my and the audience’s attention to the show but also managed to give guidance to the audience on how to interpret what’s going to happen on stage. This was especially necessary considering that the main communication of the performance that followed was mainly nonverbal and symbolic as it consisted of movements and music. This introduction was accompanied by two dancers who were jumping while they were thrusting their arms and legs. Bizarre and exuberant, this almost reminded me of a person possessed by a powerful external force. Although I cannot mention every detail, these kinds of simple but powerful motions were commonalities of movement throughout the show, capturing the audience not with flashy movements but with exceptional pauses, limited movements, and perfect resonance with the music. After the show, a short Q&A was followed with the enthusiasm with the audience. Questions were mainly focused on the cultural background of the choreographer and the performance and all of them were based on appreciation for the show.

The part that really stood out to me was how the show broke the barriers distinguishing the musicians and dancers as can be seen in lots of performances. In this show, musicians dropped their instruments and fluidly joined as dancers, or the musicians would lie down on the floor while dancers danced around and above them. This made me take in music and movement as a whole. Also, every instrument being laid on the floor while the lights and the steel structure where they hang coming down to create the image of the war, demise, or ruin was highly impressive. It was misbalanced but aesthetically very complete.

My only regret was that the English subtitle was provided for partial scenes. The show was performed in Arabic. I could tell that the language was an important part of the show because the producer chose to have the performer singing throughout the performance while keeping everything else concise, so I felt that I was not getting the full aspect of the show when I couldn’t understand the lyrics. Also, the lyrics were really beautiful in themselves so it would have been so beautiful to savor the words simultaneously with the dance.

In all, this performance, going over the language barrier, was truly beautiful, mystic yet powerful, just as its title entails. I’ll definitely look forward to seeing more production from the choreographer, Ali Chahrour.


Snow is so pretty, but a Snow Storm? even better. Likes dramas, but would like to have not too much of them in real life. Enjoys travels and wandering around the city. Obsessed with indie rock.

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