Orient & Dance Theatre
To motivate individuals to search inspiration from their surrounding environment and encourage them to focus their energy towards expressing themselves through the art of movement.
Orient and Dance Theatre (ODT) is an artistic space situated in Ramallah / Al-Bireh, Palestine. It is a place for dance, music and arts. ODT stands for hope, tolerance and diversity. Art expresses feelings and create something new. Orient & Dance Theatre was created in an environment, where contemporary dance, art & music was not known and because of the cultural background not welcomed. ODT has been fighting these prejudices from the start. We build community to appreciate and value art. ODT was founded in 2009 by a Palestinian contemporary dancer Maher Shawamreh. After years of work in dancing internationally and locally, Maher decided to create a place for change in Palestine. ODT aims to be the leading performance art school in Palestine. Besides creating artists ODT also to create a change in the community.
What makes Orient & Dance Theatre innovative?
We work with people from all ages into our projects. We also don’t put any limits to participants’ previous experience and background. Our dream is to grow bigger, become better and introduce professional performance arts to Palestine and through this raise the overall quality of the culture. We want to develop ourselves and inspire others. In our work we have two main directions which our combined with each other: - Educational work - Professional art
How does Orient & Dance Theatre measure impact?
1. Ballet Dance School ODT started teaching ballet in 2011. We had some struggles in the beginning, but we have been growing ever since. We can proudly say that ODT was one of the first places for learning ballet in Ramallah. The Ballet class is working with weekly classes from September to May. The groups are divided by age starting from 3-13 and a separate group for adults. Ballet groups also perform in smaller local events and they also create an annual show in May to summarise what they have learned throughout the year. Ballet school aims to become a professional academic school being also able to give their students certificates when they graduate. Also it aims to create more awareness about professional dancing in Palestine, hoping that our students will be the future of the dancing scene in Palestine. Ballet school is receiving international teachers annually to share their knowledge with the children and grown-ups in our center. 2. Contemporary dance We have been doing contemporary dance since the beginning of ODT. In 2011 contemporary dance was still new in Palestine and when people hear about it they imagine something dirty and forbidden. ODT has been fighting those prejudices from the beginning and will continue doing that in the future. There are weekly classes of contemporary dance in ODT opened for all levels. In teaching we focus on the meaning and feeling behind the movements. Every May our students perform in the annual show summarising what they have learned throughout the year. We also cooperate with our international partners and bring teachers from Estonia, Belgium, etc. to teach in Palestine. We aim to be the number one professional academic school for contemporary dance in Palestine. ODT also organizes occasional contemporary dance workshops in smaller locations inside the West Bank. Through doing this we aim to create more awareness and cultural diversity in villages and countryside areas. Our activities outside our center are always free for the participants. 3. Summer school of contemporary arts ODT organizes annual summer school of contemporary arts. Summer school lasts for 30 days and the program involves dance, acting and art. Throughout the 30 days, the participants will also create a story together what they will also perform in the end of the summer school. 4. Recycling programmes ODT organizes weekly classes where the participants learn about recycling how they can do it themselves with very simple measures and some creativity. ODT also organizes occasional workshops outside our center. We go out to smaller villages and towns inside the West Bank teaching people more about recycling and creating more awareness. All workshops outside our center are public, opened to all participants and for free. We organize an annual exhibition of our recycled artworks where we present best of the recycled art created throughout the year. 5. Music programmes Individual music lessons take place in our center throughout the year. 6. Professional art productions Besides being an educational center, ODT creates art on a professional level. Since the beginning of ODT we have a professional contemporary dance group what creates a new production every 3 years. Productions from the previous years: (a) LETER 2012. This production also won a third prize on the international contemporary dance festival in Algeria. (b) Lost & Found in Translation 2012. Two deaf dancers translated poems into sign language and developed it into a dance. Choreographer Helena Krinal. (c) SENSES 2012. 47 dancers were involved in this production. This was performed 5 times in different Palestinian cities and the performance also won an award from the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Developed it into a dance by Choreographer - Maher Shawamreh (d) 2012 Spectrum developed it into a dance by Choreographer - Maher Shawamreh (e) Waiting 2013 developed it into a dance by Choreographer - Maher Shawamreh (f) Travelling 2014 developed it into a dance by Choreographer - Maher Shawamreh (g) Pulse 2015 developed it into a dance by Choreographer - Maher Shawamreh (h) Music without borders 2012. 30 international and local musicians gathered to exchange their knowledge. The result of this exchange was summarized in a concert that was performed In the Ramallah Cultural Palace, Haifa and other smaller stages. (i) NAQSH 2013. 9 Palestinian music groups gathered to learn and exchange and as a result they recorded a CD together. NAQSH is the name of the CD and the project that brought them together.
How can supporters get involved?
ODT team consists of 8 administrative workers, 10 active volunteers and around 50 members. ODT is also receiving international volunteers to teach dance and different performance arts. ODT has a long partnership with NGO Ethical Links from Estonia and NGO from Belgium. We are seeking funds to support our children ballet dance programmes by engaging a professional ballet dance teacher. We used to have one who worked with us for 3 years, and have now left. The children could not continue their lessons due to her absence. We also looking for funds to support recycling workshops for children in refugee camps and remote villages.