Kristina Koutsoudas Presents Moroccan Dance Live @ The Houston Fringe Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kristina Koutsoudas
(832) 571 6900
kristinaandriana@gmail.com

Kristina Koutsoudas Presents “Moroccan Dance Live @ The Houston Fring Festival

NOVEMBER 3, 2022 – 7:30 PM: The Houston Fringe Festival – MATCH

https://www.divinedances.com/events-1

Houston, TX – Award winning choreographer/performer Kristina Koutsoudas will be presenting a program of joyous traditional, indigenous, and contemporary dances of Morocco in her latest performance, Moroccan Dance Live, at the Houston Fringe Festival on Thursday, November 3 at 7:30pm.  Ancestors of ancient Berber fertility dances, these high-energy dance styles and ceremonies, combine movements of powerful, subtle, hip technique, with high-speed turns, expressive gestures and dynamic expression to create unique, beautiful dances unlike any other.  Traditionally performed by professional Romangi (Chikaat) entertainers and urban residents (cha’abi style), Kristina is joined by Egyptian dancer Elishaba and community dance artists in this unusual program in which the audience are encouraged to be active participants. (Read all about Elishaba here http://banatbellydance.com/).   With stories, tea, sweets, and ritual, dancers bring to life the spirit of the culture from which the dances spring and bring audiences together to experience that communal spirit as a village whole.  Rarely seen in the US, the performance includes a Moroccan Chikaat tambourine dance, cha’abi (street style) social dances, a Chikaat tea tray dance, and a ritual dance. Joyous, creative, spiritual, and engaging, the dance concert is filled with new works and surprises. Moroccan Dance Live! is funded in part from a grant through the City of Houston, the Houston Arts Alliance, and Dance Source Houston. 

As the institutions and ideologies of modern Moroccan culture significantly change, the dances , and those who perform it, are slowly becoming relics of a bygone era, barely relevant to the modern world, and in danger of disappearing. Furthermore, with negative images of the Middle East and North Africa besieging the public, audiences do not often get a chance to view the beautiful art, especially traditional/indigenous art, much less to see it live and in person. Many of the dances performed have not been accessible to the public. Kristina, known for her authentic cultural dance representations, seeks not only to demonstrate her mastery of its complex form, but also to embody the original intent of the dance, the ecstasy and uplifting, “the transcendence of spirit through the dance.”  Come see for yourself!

Chikaat I: Mach Mach, Chikaat II, Hawel, and Chikaat III – Lalla Fatima are a trio of works interpreting traditions of the Moroccan shikaat dancer of the traveling people of Morocco.  While previously performed only in private settings, today these dances are performed in commercial settings for entertainment purposes.  Lively and fun, the dancer’s physical skill is often overlooked by her expressiveness and ability to engage an audience. Chikaat comes from the word “cheikha” meaning “wise woman’ i.e., wise not just in counsel but in the ways of fertility. All three dances originate from ancient fertility Berber dance rituals yet each dance also emphasizes different elements of culture. Chikaat 1: Mach, is a tambourine dance, (based on contemporary Chikaat dances performed in urban areas)  celebrates the tradition of Chikaat dancers performing in the marketplace for which the tambourine gathers attention to their performance; the lively Chikaat II: Hawel Hawel, incorporates meditative and healing movements of trance possession rituals together with expressive street cha’abi dance and meaningful gestures, and Chikaat III, highlights the social customs and hospitality demonstrated in the contemporary settings of chikaat performers, in tea houses, with a tea tray dance. Performed to the music of Chalaf Hassan, this traditional Moroccan piece demonstrates the dancer’s skill as she dances balancing a tea tray, with tea set, on her head. 

Chikaat IV is a ritual Chikaat piece, most often, if not always, performed in private for the purpose of prayer and healing. Introduced with instrumental improvisation, the music continues in a repetitive, circular, and percussive manner, often for hours (though not in this performance) to encourage the dancer to fully engage with the rhythm and restore her spirit.  In this performance, the ceremony will be kept short.  Incense and candlelight will accompany the dancer, as well as rose petals.  In addition, the dancer demonstrates her skill by keeping up the constant, subtle hip shimmy, characteristic of certain traditional Berber dances, throughout the dance’s duration.  When called, the dancer emphasizes this connection with the earth with meaningful gestures and whirling, even balancing a tray of offering on her head. 

Chikaat/Cha’abi V & VI: Social dances performed spontaneously for entertainment at a party, wedding or other holiday/coming of age ceremony, or just for fun, in one’s bedroom or living room in everyday life. Basic movements stem from traditional dance steps; however, the dancer’s personality and creativity is expressed through the improvisational nature of the form. Dancers often make up the unique gestures and movement combinations that they perform on the spot, moving both in place or across the floor. Fellow dancers often follow a dancer’s lead, in the style of traditional call-response, before leading the group themselves. Alternatively, dancers perform movements in unison or together, depending on the mood.  Individuals, who dance together, listen and watch each other closely for cues for when to lead and follow, often appearing as if they have rehearsed.  This piece(s) have additional community members performing alongside both Kristina and Elishaba. 

About Kristina Koutsoudas

Artistic director/performer/choreographer Kristina Koutsoudas celebrates 20 years of artistic excellence and recognition in Houston, Texas. Her unique programs serve a diverse population to foster creativity, compassion, community, and engagement. For two decades, she has committed herself to improving the quality of life for Houstonians through art. Kristina’s primary focus is to provide Houstonians with opportunities to view and participate in world class cultural, traditional, and contemporary dance.

Engaged in both traditional research and innovating performance and choreography, Kristina Koutsoudas interprets and presents traditional dance, especially women’s dances, of the East and Mediterranean, for contemporary audiences.   Kristina stages compelling and accessible new works that challenge, entertain uplift, and educate audiences. Her performances are powerful, joyful, and intimately human, connecting to both children and adults of diverse backgrounds.

Voted by Houston Press as one of the “100 Creatives of Houston” for choreography, Kristina is a rare, gifted combination of a choreographer, performer, researcher, and teacher of contemporary and folkloric dances of the Middle East and North Africa.  Awarded three awards from the Houston Arts Alliance and the city of Houston in the last three years, a Let Creativity Happen grant from the City of Houston and the Houston Arts Alliance for her North African dance classes (2022) and dance performance (2020) and a Support for Creative Individuals grant in literature (2020), this year,  she was also recognized for her contributions and awarded several prestigious and highly competitive awards including Dance Source Houston’s Groundwork Grant (January 2022) he Rauschenberg Foundation’s Dancer Grant (NYC, May 2022) and several private individual grants for operational support.,  Together, with generous grants from additional foundations, these awards have allowed her to continue to develop and present high quality cultural dance programs for our diverse local, national, and international communities in a variety of mediums. In June 2022, Kristina presented virtually at the 18th Annual Arts & Society Conference in Zagroza, Spain and in July, at the CID-UNESCO conference (58th Annual Congress of International Dance) in Athens, Greece to international audiences from hundreds of countries. She also debuted Moroccan Dance Live!, in person/live at the 50th Annual Bayou City Arts Festival in Memorial Park in March 2022. Currently, Kristina teaches online dance classes and workshops, writes on dance history, collaborates with other artists (Artist Relief Project/Pilot Dance Co), co-creates and guides groups with re-envisioned goddess based mythologies, participates in international conferences on ancient/contemporary dance, and is extensively engaged in research for future narrative & cultural dance performances.  To learn more about Kristina, please visit www.divinedances.com.

Houston Press Article:

https://www.houstonpress.com/arts/100-creatives-2013-kristina-koutsoudas-middle-eastern-persian-and-north-african-folk-dance-artist-6398017

For more information about Moroccan Dance Live and event details, please visit:  

www.divinedances.com/events  #mnemosyneinternational, www.facebook.com/kristina.koutsoudas

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