Jenna Hendry & Matilda Bilberg performing “I U M I” in IDEA, Amman

Pro Helvetia Cairo, Performing Arts
Photo for Swiss artists Jenna Hendry & Matilda Bilberg while performing their piece "IUMI" in IDEA Festival

On its third edition, IDEA – International Dance Encounter Amman reflected on how the performing arts ecosystem could be in the future, following the impact of the pandemic. IDEA brought together over 50 artists from 25 countries in a program of live performances, artistic residencies, workshops, dance jam, open labs, and round-table discussions. 

With Pro Helvetia Cairo’s support Swiss artists Jenna Hendry & Matilda Bilberg engaged with the festival participants and audience while preforming their piece “I U M I”. A performance inspired by the desire for closeness and connection right before the pandemic followed by 3.5 years’ roller-coaster ride of separations, physical distancing, halts of individual careers, injuries, searching of belonging, then reunions, re-connecting with audiences and sharing the collective longing for closeness and intimacy with other realities of the world.

They also shared their practices in the creation of “I U M I” with local dancers and choreographers in a one-day workshop.

IDEA also featured “Smell of Cement”; a solo dance performance by Egyptian choreographer and dancer Eman Hussein. The dance piece explored some of the precarious aspects that dancers have in common with construction workers. It tackles the memory of the body in relation to space and how working with the body goes beyond the idea of pain & sweat resulting from physical work itself. “Smell of Cement” was developed during Eman’s residency with Pro Helvetia at Rote Fabrik in Zurich.

“Subject to” by Moroccan dancer and choreographer Mehdi Dahkan was featured in the festival. In this solo, Mehdi calls for a deliberate pause and invites the audience to plunge into an intimate space where he shares his unspoken truths. “Subject to” was developed during Mehdi’s research trip with Pro Helvetia at the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Jenna, Matilda, Eman and Mehdi participated in roundtable discussions during the first three days of the festival. They shared their practices, thoughts, and experience on three different topics: Mobility and touring, new narratives, accessibility and achieving sustainability along with other international dancers and emerging artists in Amman.

About IDEA

IDEA – International Dance Encounter Amman, is a bi-annual international multi-disciplinary dance festival based in Amman, Jordan. Third edition took place between 14-23 September 2023. IDEA is organized and curated by Studio 8, in partnership with local, regional and international organizations.