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Timeless tale

28 May 2024 By ANIRBAN RAY

Egyptian ballet on love ‘Sheherazade’ concludes ROHM’s current season

There are many facets of passion…sometimes it glows red with rage while at other times it gets green with envy. It can also be as tender as a dove flitting around amid the early morning dew or as fierce as a predator holding onto its prey.

Passion gets often equated with war and bloodshed for the robust minds while the sensitive find expression for it in poems and ballet. Such was the final presentation of the Egyptian ballet ‘Sheherazade’ at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) last weekend.

The colourful feat encapsulated the web of human passion and emotions through a 67-minute spectacle of dance and music. Presented by the Cairo Opera, Sheherazade was a dazzling theatrical dance based on the timeless and famous story of Arab history – the origin of 1001 Nights.

Directed by the visionary Walid Aouni, the production skillfully blended traditional and modern choreography, creating a fresh and exciting interpretation of this classic narrative. The music, deeply rooted in Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous orchestral piece, provided a rich, emotive backdrop for the dancers, enhancing the storytelling with its sweeping, evocative melodies.

Experimenting with music, art, and dance from India, China, Turkey to Leonardo di Vinci, the performance gave a touch of the expressionism movement: distorting facts randomly for emotional effect in order to evoke vivid moods and emotions among audience.

The stage was a canvas of emotions, colourfully painted by the dancers’ with their awesome movements and expressions. They portrayed a range of passions – anger, jealousy, love, tenderness, and rage – through precise timing and evocative choreography.  The colourful stagecraft with evocative lighting changing colours and background in the one act to give the audience a feel of different situations.

Under the visionary direction of Walid Aouni, art director, director, and designer of the Egyptian Modern Dance Company, the performance enthralled audiences with its innovative interpretation of one of Arab history’s most famous tales.

Aouni’s reimagining of Scheherazade, inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s evocative score, featured unique stagecraft and costumes that brought the story to life. “What you hear is a depiction of what can be read in the book or seen in our imaginations, such as the smell of a perfume or the feel or meaning of a rhythm. Arguably no composer reaches as deeply into a story, chasing musical expression to interpret sentences, as Rimsky-Korsakov did,” explained Aouni.

Each performance was a testament to the dancers’ skill and dedication. Moments of tenderness were graceful, with gentle, flowing movements that spoke of love and compassion. The portrayal of ferocity, especially in the climactic scenes, was breath-taking, with explosive energy and dramatic, sweeping motions that captured the audience’s imagination. The costumes were a visual feast, blending traditional attire with modern elements to create a timeless look. Rich fabrics, intricate designs, and vibrant colours added depth to the characters, enhancing the storytelling.

As the curtain fell for the final show of ROHM’s current season, the audience in Oman was left with fond memories of love and passion emerging from an eternal love story.

The performance was a reminder of the power of storytelling and the enduring appeal of passion in all its forms. It was an evening to remember, a celebration of the art of dance and the timeless tale of survival, wit, and the transformative power of stories.

The beautiful Scheherazade, the young new wife of a cruel king, passses her execution with brilliant and entrancing stories told over the course of 1001 nights. Each night she leaves the King eager to hear the next instalment, thus buying herself another day of life. With music and interpretation based upon the original Rimsky Korsakov’s famous work, the director blends traditional and modern choreography, and costumes, to refresh this timeless tale. Scheherazade was not meant to be an exact depiction of Scheherazade’s stories, but through music the composer joins a number of tales such on Sindbad, Aladdin among some.

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