Salambo in Addis

Salambo discovering Ethiopia

Contemporary dance made in Ethiopia: the great Melaku Belay

As I discovered since moving here, Ethiopia has a unique dance culture…..Dance is everywhere. A dinner in a traditional restaurant is always accompanied by live singers and musicians known as azmari.  Throughout the evening, customers spontaneously stand up and shoulder dance with them. Of all such places in Addis, one is very special: Fendika in the Kasanchis area in the centre of town. Fendika is what is called an azmari bet , or “house of singers and musicians”, and it is where the great contemporary Ethiopian dancer Melaku Belay gives performances every other Friday.

Fendika is nothing like a grand performance stage. It is a tiny makeshift house where people are packed in together to watch the dancers and drink tej.  There is no stage as such, the audience almost merges with the musicians and dancers and that’s the way they like it. In that context, Melaku Belay is amazing to watch. He is almost in trance when he dances, moving his small-built but strong body with amazing skills and flexibility, often with a great open smile on his face. While dancing, he communicates his deep passion to his audience. In the interviews I read about him, he always insists on how important it is for him to continue dancing at Fendika. He already has a name on the international dance scene having performed in Paris, London and elsewhere but he wants to keep close to his roots. After having seen him at Fendika, I can understand why. There, he can be physically and mentally close to his public and genuinely share his dancing, without compromising the quality of his performance. In Ethiopia, dancers and their audience want to enjoy their time together, with no distance or pretention. Everybody is uplifted together, momentarily rising above mundane worries and concerns. The human side takes over. It feels very different from a European stage where dancers, placed about two metres above and away from the public, are extremely serious and distant. Maybe it is time to revisit the way, we Europeans view art and art performances…It is time to reintroduce the fun into our lives.

Check  www.melakubelay.com

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on March 14, 2012 by in People of Addis and tagged , , , , , , .

Previous posts

Categories

March 2012
M T W T F S S
« Feb   Apr »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
mamaaroma

all about Rome

libri e arte

leggere guardare pensare

%d bloggers like this: