Dance Professor Teaches and Performs in Lebanon
Dance professor Christy Chand had the opportunity to teach dance and perform in Lebanon at the International Dance Day Festival in April.
Christy Chand with Nadra Assaf
The International Dance Day Festival is a week-long conference hosted by Lebanese American University. The conference consisted of dance classes, workshops, and performances. It often brings dancers from all over the world to Lebanon. Guest artists from Portugal, Libya, Nigeria, and beyond traveled to attend the conference. This year, Chand taught contemporary dance classes, performed, and created incredible bonds with her students.
Dr. Nadra Assaf, a dancer and professor in Lebanon, organized the first International Dance Day Festival in April 2011. Chand said Assaf’s goal in creating the conference was twofold: to share Lebanese dance culture and to learn about other dance cultures.
“The festival is for the culture and history of Lebanese dance to be noticed, as well as letting those who are in Lebanon interact with outsiders,” Chand said.
Attaining a travel visa in Lebanon is a tedious process, so learning dance from different cultures is a special opportunity for Lebanese students.
Christy Chand with International Dance Day Festival students
“I think it’s really an honor to be able to come in and teach students that are from so many different backgrounds,” Chand said. “Many of them really have to fight for dance. It’s something every single one of them is extremely passionate about.”
Students ranged from age six to 60. Some were students from Lebanon American University, while others came from remote areas of the country. All were welcome to take the dance classes for free. Some dancers auditioned and were selected to dance at a performance on the last night of the festival.
This was Chand’s second year attending the conference. Many students returned from last year’s International Dance Day Festival. “It was so special to be able to see growth in them as dancers over the year,” Chand said. Chand had the opportunity to perform in one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the world. Its rich history inspired her.
“It was amazing to see how long concerts and different styles of dances have been really thriving in Lebanon,” Chand said.
She brought many lessons back with her that she will integrate into the classroom. Many of these lessons pertained to dance, but she also learned the importance of the outlook students have when they walk into the classroom.
“The number one thing I’ve tried to bring into my dance classes is the idea of ‘you create your own world,’” Chand said. “A student may think a class is boring or they might be overwhelmed, but what is it that you are doing to make the situation better for yourself? Could you have a better attitude about things? Could you leave whatever may be affecting you outside of the classroom? You have so much power and agency when you walk into a classroom.”