From Beirut to ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Lebanese dance crew Mayyas have their eyes on the prize

From Beirut to ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Lebanese dance crew Mayyas have their eyes on the prize
Lebanese all-female dance crew Mayyas made a shining return to the ‘America's Got Talent’ stage. (Instagram)
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Updated 16 September 2022

From Beirut to ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Lebanese dance crew Mayyas have their eyes on the prize

From Beirut to ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Lebanese dance crew Mayyas have their eyes on the prize

LOS ANGELES: Lebanese dance crew Mayyas may have only assembled four years ago but they have taken the world by storm — one dance step at a time. Having garnered high praise on the “America’s Got Talent” stage, the all-female group founded by Lebanese choreographer Nadim Cherfan are once again grabbing headlines for their show-stopping ethereal performances which have catapulted them to the finals.

“I felt proud. I felt scared. I felt a huge responsibility. All of these mixed feelings came at once. It was absolutely beautiful for me,” Cherfan told Arab News after the episode aired.

Where it began

Cherfan was 14 when he fell in love with the world of dance and took off to attend workshops in the UK, the US and India to perfect his craft. He was 20 when he began to teach others; his first class consisted of three girls. By 2019, he was teaching 200 students. And from those 200, Mayyas was born.

Cherfan formed the group in order to compete in the sixth season of “Arabs Got Talent.” And despite being newcomers, the group dazzled, wowing judge and Lebanese singing superstar Najwa Karam who awarded them entry to the final with her ‘golden buzzer’ and they were ultimately crowned champions.

“I chose a female crew, because I wanted to deliver a message about female empowerment, as we all know that, even today, Arab women are still called names for being dancers. I wanted to prove how elegant refined and beautiful dancing is,” Cherfan said in an Arab News interview at the time. “And who’s better than these gorgeous ladies to do so?”

But winning one of the most prestigious talent awards in the Middle East wasn’t enough. With success came self-inflicted pressure to do even better. “The golden buzzer, the standing ovation, the beautiful comments of the judges, and winning the title itself are challenges, because they are stress and responsibility — in those moments (all I am thinking is) ‘What’s next? How can I do better?’”

That same year, Mayyas competed in “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions,” a spin-off of “Britain’s Got Talent,” in which the group were the only act from the Middle East to participate.

The response from the judges and audience was overwhelming. “Absolutely genius — brilliant, inventive… (I’ve) never seen a dance like this ever on one of these shows,” said judge Simon Cowell at the time.

Where it’s going

This year, Mayyas are making their mark on the international scene once again after they were awarded the golden buzzer by “America’s Got Talent” judge Sofia Vergara in June. Now, having wowed the judges (Vergara, Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel) again this week, the dancers are on their way to the finals, set to be broadcast on Sept. 13 and 14.

They are receiving strong backing from their Lebanese fans. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International launched an advertising campaign in the US with the slogan “Kermalak Ya Lebnen” — which translates to ‘For You Lebanon’ — to promote and support them.

LBCI backed Mayyas with adverts on its TV and social-media channels, and also worked with local and Arab media outlets in the US to support the campaign.

“The Lebanese people around the world have showed us huge support,” Cherfan said. “We’ve been getting tons of messages. Everybody is backing up Mayyas. Everybody is rooting for Mayyas. So I’m really thankful for the Lebanese diaspora that is being really supportive for Mayyas,” he added.

Not that Mayyas necessarily need the help, considering the acclaim they’ve garnered so far.

“Thirty-six women dancing as one,” said judge Vergara of their semi-final performance. “It’s magic.”

And the often-cynical Cowell was even more blown away, saying: “Every single one of us in this room, I promise you, is going to remember this moment. This is not just going to change your lives, and this is going to sound very dramatic, this is a performance that changes the world. It was as good as it gets. Respect.”

During his interview with Arab News, the choreographer, who estimates that he has worked with 300 Lebanese girls and women in his 17 years as a dance teacher, took his time to thank his team for their hard work.

“To all the Mayyas, all the girls, all my sisters. I would like to say for them, thank you for trusting me,” he said. “The responsibility got bigger. I hope we will be able to be up to the standard of the finale because the talents are really big this year. But the Mayyas are ready.”

- Shyama Krishna Kumar contributed to this report 


Model Ubah Hassan shows off a custom-made gown at New York event  

Model Ubah Hassan shows off a custom-made gown at New York event  
Updated 28 sec ago

Model Ubah Hassan shows off a custom-made gown at New York event  

Model Ubah Hassan shows off a custom-made gown at New York event  

DUBAI: Somali Canadian model Ubah Hassan took to Instagram on Tuesday morning to show off her head-turning gown from an event that took place in New York.  

The TV star, who is set to star in season 14 of “The Real Housewives of New York,” posted a video of her form-fitting lilac dress with cut out detailing around the chest that she wore to the 15 Percent Pledge gala. The gown featured voluminous sleeves that were attached to a cape with a long train.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by UBAH (@ubah)

Her dress was custom made by Harbison Studio, which was founded by New York-based designer Chales Elliot Harbison. 

“Warning to my future wedding guests: We are having rice and beans on my wedding as the entire wedding budget will go into dress and the diamonds,” Hassan joked in the second of two  Instagram posts. 

“Here is me and my team manifesting to be in a Disney princess movie,” she added, referencing her fairy-tale gown.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by UBAH (@ubah)

“THANK YOU for having us at @15percentpledge gala. You guys are doing amazing work supporting black business, black designers (sic),” she captioned her first post.  

The 15 Percent Pledge is an American non-profit organization that encourages retailers to pledge at least 15 percent of their shelf-space to Black-owned businesses. The foundation conducts audits, shares its database of Black-owned businesses, and offers business development strategies to participating companies. 

Dutch Moroccan Egyptian model Imaan Hammam was also in attendance. She wore a black gown with a long train by Italian brand Maximilian and had her hair tied in hip-grazing braids.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

“Thank you @aurorajames and the entire @15percentpledge team for such a well-curated event and for bringing everyone together for such a great cause,” she wrote on Instagram.  

The gala dinner was also attended by Ashley Graham, Lori Harvey, Ryan Destiny and more.  

To celebrate the achievements of Black entrepreneurs, the Fifteen Percent Pledge awarded three founders with grants. The first-place winner, beauty brand 54 Thrones, received the first-ever Achievement Award, a $200,000 grant presented by Shop with Google. The second runner-up, Sergio Hudson, received $35,000, and the third runner-up, Puzzles of Color, received $20,000.  

The winners all received a physical award created by designer Jameel Mohammed, founder and director of Khiry, the luxury brand best known for its afro-futurist jewelry. 


Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 

Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 
Updated 07 February 2023

Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 

Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 

ABU DHABI: Bollywood has come to the UAE as the Louvre Abu Dhabi unveiled its newest art exhibition, on the history of Indian cinema.  

Home to one of the world’s largest film industries, India reportedly releases more than 1,500 genre-varying movies in 20 languages per year.  

“Bollywood Superstars” features a wide selection of paintings, photographs, costumes, tapestries and photographic objects. (Supplied)

Running until June 4, “Bollywood Superstars” features a wide selection of paintings, photographs, costumes, tapestries and photographic objects. A significant number of the displayed items are on loan from the Musee du Quai Branly — Jacques Chirac in Paris, which specializes in indigenous art.  

Indian cinema was developed in the 20th century, but as the exhibition demonstrates, narration and moving images have been present long before the modern era. In a way, the nation’s vibrant visual culture, folk performing arts, shadow puppetry, ancient epics and mythologies — dating back to 2,000 years — led to the birth of Bollywood. Some of the displayed objects represent the celebration and revival of religious, cultural figures, and heroes.   

significant number of the displayed items are on loan from the Musee du Quai Branly — Jacques Chirac in Paris, which specializes in indigenous art. (Supplied)

In the early days, traveling story-tellers roamed around, narrating scenes of important epics. A showcased mid-20th century wooden altar, resembling a toy box, shows on its detailed panels painted characters and scenes from the battle-themed “Ramayana” epic. It almost looks like a contemporary film set, where movement, costume, and staging are in action. 

Other objects reveal deities, taking them out of their temples and closer to worshippers. There is a colorful wooden bioscope that projects with light images of a deity. “Like a music box, a hand crank slides images for viewers to see peering through small peepholes,” reads a label next to the device.  

India reportedly releases more than 1,500 genre-varying movies in 20 languages per year. (Supplied)

Movies arrived in India via the revolutionary French Lumiere brothers, who invented photographic equipment, in 1896. As the years advanced, filmmaking became a weapon against colonial rule, asserting identity. Modern pioneering directors, such as the late Dadasaheb Phalke (dubbed “the Father of Indian Cinema”), were inspired by their own literature and culture, manifesting in their creations.     

The exhibition ends with a presentation of popular Hindi cinema today, witnessing a boom from the 1970s onwards with luminaries Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, and Shah Rukh Khan on the rise. Whether in old or modern times, “Bollywood Superstars” is a reminder of a human need to tell stories. 


American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure

American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure
Updated 06 February 2023

American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure

American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure
  • The bank’s annual brochure lists suggested recreational, artistic, and cultural activities to enjoy during holidays
  • The brochure mentions that the museum of ancient Egyptian civilization will display the complete collection of the boy king Tutankhamun

CAIRO: JPMorgan Bank is directing its clients toward the Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure.

The publication is distributed to the organization’s distinguished clients around the world.

It lists suggested recreational, artistic, and cultural activities to enjoy during holidays, while highlighting the most important attractions and places around the world.

This year’s brochure includes many locations, and among them is a picture of the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum, accompanied by some information about the attraction.

It says that the museum of ancient Egyptian civilization will display the complete collection of the boy king Tutankhamun.

Ahmed Issa, Egyptian minister of tourism and antiquities, appreciated the bank’s gesture in recommending the museum to its clients.

The museum’s opening is eagerly awaited and it will be considered one of the most important establishments of its kind in the world.

The minister said that its opening date will be decided as soon as possible, adding that kings, presidents, and senior officials from around the world will attend its inauguration.

Soha Ali, CEO of JPMorgan Bank in Egypt and North Africa, held a meeting with Issa recently, and thanked the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities for its cooperation, and for providing information on the museum, as well as photographs.

JPMorgan Bank, the largest in the US and one of the biggest in the world, issues its booklet on an annual basis.


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 
Updated 06 February 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

DUBAI: Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo turned 38 on Feb. 5 and celebrated his birthday with family and close friends in an intimate gathering in Saudi Arabia. 

His longtime partner Georgina Rodriguez and oldest son Cristiano Jr. were also present for the celebrations.  

Among the attendees were his oldest friends Miguel Paixao and Jose Semedo. Ronaldo also invited Madrid-based reporter Edu Aguirre and wife Julia Salmean, along with his new personal manager and agent Ricky Regufe and personal wealth manager Miguel Marques.

Ronaldo took to Instagram to share a few snapshots from the day, captioning the post: “Thank you everyone for all the birthday messages. Grateful to have spent the day with my family and friends.” 

In the photos, the football superstar can be seen posing in front of a table laden with multiple birthday cakes. Another photo shared in the carousel of images shows Ronaldo taking advantage of the winter weather on what appears to be a trip to the desert, complete with a roaring bonfire and traditional tents.  

 

 

Rodriguez also took to social media to post a loving message for Ronaldo’s birthday. “Happy days to the love of my life. In love with you and what we are together,” wrote the Argentine model. 

After scoring his first goal for Al-Nassr last week, Ronaldo will be next seen in action on Thursday against Al-Wehda in a Saudi Pro League match. 


Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai
Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Elba is also a DJ and has performed at venues across the world. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2023

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

DUBAI: Hollywood actor and DJ Idris Elba is set to headline the Dubai edition of global techno and house music festival Elrow XXL on Feb. 17, it was announced on Monday.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Elba is also a DJ and has performed at venues across the world, including Coachella, Sound in Los Angeles and Output in New York. His UK apperances include Ministry of Sound in London, as well as both the Creamfields and Glastonbury festivals.

A map of the Dubai edition shared by the festival on social media. (Instagram)

His appearance at the Elrow XXL marks his first time performing in the Middle East.

Elrow XXL will be held at Dubai Design District on Feb. 17 and 18.

The festival has previously been staged in 84 cities across 34 countries, including London, Barcelona, Ibiza, Amsterdam, Madrid, Las Vegas, Antwerp, Frankfurt  and New York.

“I love Dubai. And I love playing Elrow shows. I’m looking forward to this one a lot,” Elba said in a released statement.

Apart from Elba, the festival features a lineup of international DJs and artists, including Armand Van Helden, Sam Devine, Sonny Fodera, Alisha, Arielle Free, R3WIRE, Wade and Chelina Manuhutu.