On August 4, a devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, killed at least 200 people, injured thousands and left about 300,000 people homeless. The exact cause of the detonation is still under investigation, but it is clear that the city and its people are suffering — financially, physically and mentally. This includes the many artists, performers and creatives in the region’s once thriving cultural community.
Broadway Dance Center (BDC), together with Michèle Assaf of World Dance Movement and Alissar Caracalla of Caracalla Dance School and Caracalla Dance Theatre in Beirut, have created a series of online classes with industry professionals to fundraise and support Lebanon. The fundraiser, Leaps for Lebanon, includes a wide variety of classes hosted through BDC Online. All classes are $20, and proceeds will be donated to Concern Worldwide, a global humanitarian disaster relief organization that has been working in Beirut since 2013.
“I saw the terrible scenes on the news from the blast in Beirut, and my heart went out to them,” Diane King, executive director and owner of BDC, tells Dance Informa. “I reached out to Michèle Assaf, as I know her family is Lebanese, to see if she wanted to teach a class and make a donation. Michèle had been thinking the same thing and reached out to a friend in Beirut, dance studio and theater owner Alissar Caracalla. Alissar gave us a horrifying snapshot of how the explosion had impacted the city and its thriving arts area. We have partnered with Concern Worldwide, a NGO that has people on the ground in Lebanon, and knows that the funds we raise will go to those who need them.”
“We want to raise awareness of the situation that occurred on August 4, in Beirut, and to offer support, both in spirit and financially,” adds April Cook, director of marketing and communications for BDC. “Concern Worldwide quickly helped with immediate needs in the affected area and is preparing to aid with long-term programming as well, which will be needed to rebuild.”
Concern Worldwide and its expert staff mobilized quickly in the blast-affected areas, helping with cleanup as well as providing emergency shelter kits, hygiene “dignity kits” and PPE to thousands whose lives were devastated in an instant. The organization, aware of the psychological impact a traumatic event like this can have on those affected, is also initiating psycho-social support interventions and working with several local civil society volunteer groups to provide technical support and expertise to help the society rebuild.
Remaining fundraising classes include: Contemporary with Teddy Forance (September 27), Choreography Workshop with Medhi Walerski (September 27), Q&A with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (October 4), Contemporary Jazz with Slam (October 4), Contemporary with Desmond Richardson (October 4), TurnItOut with Tiler Peck (October 11), Jazz Funk with Tyce Diorio (October 11), Lyrical with Gianna Martello (October 11), Jazz with Krista Miller (October 18) and Contemporary with James Washington (October 18).
Dancers can register for class via www.broadwaydancecenter.com, and BDC will donate the proceeds directly to Concern Worldwide. Dancers can also donate any amount by using the link on BDC’s Leaps for Lebanon webpage.
“We truly appreciate the support we’ve received for this cause,” Cook says, “and are extremely thankful to all who have donated and danced with us!”
For more information on Broadway Dance Center’s Leaps for Lebanon, visit www.broadwaydancecenter.com/special-event/leaps-for-lebanon.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.