Meet Hadi Awada, choreographer to the stars

Meet Hadi Awada, choreographer to the stars
The dancer, choreographer and director has become the go-to guy for some of the most famous pop stars from Lebanon and Egypt. (Instagram))
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Updated 18 February 2022

Meet Hadi Awada, choreographer to the stars

Meet Hadi Awada, choreographer to the stars
  • The Lebanese ‘dance designer’ has established himself as the go-to for a host of Arab music icons

PARIS: Hadi Awada is something of a rarity in the Arab music scene — a Lebanese artist who has managed to make a name for himself in Egypt.

The dancer, choreographer and director has become the go-to guy for some of the most famous pop stars from Lebanon and Egypt — and, more recently, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — when they want to impress their fans with their footwork.

And you can see why just from talking to him — Awada’s enthusiasm is palpable and infectious. He has a child’s playful spirit. Lebanese singer Maya Diab, one of his many collaborators, says he has “a big heart,” and a big smile to go with it.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hadi AWADA (@hadi_awadaa)

That positivity hasn’t always been easy to come by for Awada though. His parents insisted that he should ignore his desire to dance and continue his medical studies. Awada elected to pursue his dream instead. 

“I went through a lot of difficult things between the ages of 17 and 24,” Awada tells Arab News. “Family restrictions made me push myself harder, in order to prove to everyone that I could succeed and that nothing and no one could stop me.”

He certainly did that. In 2008, aged 18, Awada was accepted at the highly selective Belarusian Academy of Arts, where he studied choreography and cinematography. In 2014, in New York, he was awarded a distinction in the prestigious International Modeling and Talent Association competition. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hadi AWADA (@hadi_awadaa)

“I was selected by the John Robert Powers Agency to represent Lebanon. It was complicated for me, because I did not have an advisor in New York. But the competition was very beneficial. I came back to Lebanon with a gold medal.”

Awada’s next big break came at home in Lebanon. Aged 25, he became the choreographer of the wildly popular “Star Academy” TV talent show. This gave him the opportunity to work with the biggest music stars in the Arab world. 

“I felt that I had fulfilled my original goal and that I had reached the top of the mountain,” he says of landing that job. However, that also meant that he had to find a new goal. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hadi AWADA (@hadi_awadaa)

“By the end of ‘Star Academy,’ I was lost,” he says. “It took me a long time to understand that I could still do a lot of things.”

His perseverance and hard work not only allowed him to become the choreographer to many icons of modern Arabic pop music, but also to become a music video director, and a friend to several of them, particularly Diab, with whom he has a longstanding relationship. 

In 2018, Lebanese singer Myriam Fares expressed to her millions of followers on Instagram the admiration she feels for Awada, whom she believes to be “the greatest choreographer in the Arab world.” And his collaborations with — among others — Lebanese diva Haifa Wehbe and two of the region’s hippest artists, Mohamed Ramadan of Egypt and Saif Nabeel of Iraq, back up Fares’ words.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hadi AWADA (@hadi_awadaa)

Awada himself is quick to announce that he does not share her opinion. But equally quick to stress that his desire is to be number one, and that he is still not satisfied, despite his success.

“I am proud of myself. I wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t (worked so hard). I received, very early on, the trust of huge artists like Maya Diab, Myriam Fares and Haifa Wehbe, as well as the support of (‘Star Academy’ director) Toni Kahwaji. I’m happy to be able to constantly reinvent myself by coming up with new ideas or new moves.”

He now displays many of those new moves on TikTok, often setting his followers challenges, such as replicating the dances he has choreographed for Nabeel.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hadi AWADA (@hadi_awadaa)

For Awada, a dance is much more than just a series of movements. It is a story. One that incorporates numerous artistic and cultural references. A good example is his performance at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival in October as a tribute to the illustrious career of Egyptian actor Samir Ghanem, which combined 10 dances in less than three minutes. “I spent a whole month watching all his performances and films,” Awada explains of his preparation for that show. “It was a huge honor for me.”

Recently, Awada has become increasingly influential in the Khaleeji music scene, particularly through his work the Saudi singer Oumaima Taleb. And it’s clear that Awada remains as passionate about his work now as when he started out.

“Every artist has their own character,” he says. “You have to adapt the choreography to their personality. I see myself as a dance designer.”

This story was adapted from an original piece by Arab News France


Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia
Winnie Harlow attends the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Scott Garfitt)
Updated 29 January 2023

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Canadian model Winnie Harlow was spotted in Saudi Arabia this weekend attending the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix.

 The model was part of the thousands of fans who watched on as 22 of the fastest electric race cars ever built raced for the second time this weekend.

 “The experience at Formula E is unmatched and I’ve really enjoyed the vibe, people, atmosphere, and racing. I’ve been to Saudi Arabia a few times and always have a great experience, so I love that Formula E is in Diriyah,” Harlow said in a released statement.

“Living in a more sustainable world and being able to enjoy motorsports at the same time is incredible,” she added. 

Harlow rubbed shoulders with the likes of John Legend, Martin Garrix, Miguel and French Montana, who performed at the event’s after-race concert series.

Netflix series “Emily in Paris” star Lucien Laviscount was also in attendance.

“I’m a massive fan of motorsport and anything to do with cars. Seeing the new GEN3 race car on track for the first time was insane,” he said in a released statement. “It looks like a fighter jet on wheels and sounds like it’s from a sci-fi movie. Formula E are leading the world in electric car innovation. I’m in line for an electric vehicle and this has really given me a taste.”


Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  
Updated 29 January 2023

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

DUBAI: It would not be an understatement to say that we are living in the golden age of television when it comes to sheer diversity in terms of content. That much is evident when a Dungeons & Dragons game that started out in someone’s living room is now a full-blown animated series on a massive streaming platform — and it has returned for a second season.   

 “The Legend of Vox Machina” is based on the hugely successful D&D actual play series Critical Role, in which players livestreamed themselves playing the tabletop game. The adult animated series made fans in its debut season for its ability to carefully balance juvenile humor with immense character depth, set against a lore-heavy fantasy setting.   

Season two builds on that promise and comes back even stronger with greater character arcs for its seven main characters: Half-elf rogue Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien), his ranger twin sister Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey), half-elf druid Keyleth (Marisha Ray), gnome bard Scanlan (Sam Riegel), goliath barbarian Grog (Travis Willingham), his BFF gnome paladin Pike (Ashley Johnson) and human gunslinger Percy (Taliesen Jaffe). This is an impressive feat to achieve given that the episodes have a run time of under 30 minutes.   

The new season picks up exactly where season one left off — with a group of large and ancient dragons attacking the city of Emon. Our motley crew of mercenaries/heroes, clearly underqualified for the job of defeating these powerful beings, must now go on a continent-hopping jaunt to retrieve magical artifacts that will help them in this mission.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by FanologyPV (@fanologypv)

It is helpful here to remember that “TLOVM,” unlike any fantasy series or movie that you may have watched so far, is not based on a book or video game: It is based on a story created by a group of friends as they played a game over several years, albeit with an audience watching on Twitch and YouTube.   

And, hence, what makes the animated show such an engrossing watch, despite having a story that may seem familiar to most fans of fantasy media, is that “TLOVM” manages to accurately capture the bond between the players and translate it into endearing television.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by FanologyPV (@fanologypv)

And while the personal stakes are dialed up to 11 this time around, the larger plot is not ignored either. As big as the emotional punches are, they are matched in intensity with the beautifully realized action scenes and set pieces, which will again feel familiar to anyone who has ever played a role-playing game with their friends.   

With Critical Role announcing that they will also be animating their second campaign, Mighty Nein, for Amazon, and if you are a fan of all things magic, camaraderie and epic battles, there has never been a better time to tune in and let “Vox Machina” enthrall you. 


‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  

‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  
Updated 29 January 2023

‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  

‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  

DUBAI: The force is strong with “Star Wars” fans in the Middle East.   

British actor and mime artist Anthony Daniels, best known for playing the lovable golden droid C3PO in the “Star Wars” franchise, is headed to the Middle East Film and Comic Con, set to take place in Abu Dhabi from March 3-5.   

He is the only actor to have either appeared in or been involved with all theatrical films in the series, having starred in 10 “Star Wars” films, apart from being involved in several TV shows, video games and radio serials.   

It has also been heavily hinted at that British actor, writer and filmmaker Andy Serkis will be in attendance in Abu Dhabi at the three-day event. Serkis is best known for his performance capture roles comprising motion capture acting, animation and voice work for computer-generated characters such as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, Caesar in the “Planet of the Apes” reboot trilogy, and Supreme Leader Snoke in the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy   

He most recently portrayed Kino Loy in the “Star Wars” Disney+ series “Andor.”  

However, Serkis’s attendance has not been confirmed by the organizers as of yet.  


UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  

UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  
Blackpink performs onstage at the 2022 MTV VMAs at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022. (AFP)
Updated 29 January 2023

UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  

UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  

ABU DHABI: Fans of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink were treated to a concert and surprise birthday celebration for band member Rose at the group’s performance in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.

The chart-topping group hit the stage and performed a number of their greatest hits — including “Pink Venom” and “Lovesick Girls” — before Korean-New Zealand singer Rose, whose birthday is on Feb. 11, was surprised with a multi-tiered cake on stage. She is set to turn 26.

Bandmember Jennie was also spotted visiting Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque before the show.

Abu Dhabi is the second Middle Eastern stop on the “Born Pink” world tour after the group performed in Riyadh on Jan. 20.


US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 

US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 
Updated 29 January 2023

US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 

US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 

DUBAI: US singer-songwriter John Legend made a resounding comeback to the Middle East with his performance at the final day of the Diriyah E-Prix races in Saudi Arabia. 

From up-tempo, dance tracks like “All She Wanna Do” to his famous ballad “All of Me,” Legend had the packed audience screaming for more and singing along to every word. 

Moroccan American rapper French Montana and Egyptian singer-songwriter Mohamed EL-Hamaki also took to the stage on Saturday night. 

Returning for its ninth season and after a two-week break following an opener in Mexico City, the Diriyah E-Prix kicked off on Friday in the Saudi capital with two days of racing on the Diriyah Street Course.