Documentary Commissioned by the National Museum of African Art
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art will present the world premiere dance ballet documentary Hamdan, Through the Gate of Tears: Backstage at the San Diego Black Film Festival Saturday, Jan. 30, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are required for the festival and are available at http://www.sdbff.com/ or by phone at (619) 234-0022.
The 30 minute documentary gives viewers an opportunity to hear interviews from choreographer Ray Mercer, theater manager Denise Saunders Thompson, set designer Paul Falcone and costume design staff about the making of the production. Filmmaker Dodge Billingsley and museum education specialist Nicole Shivers will discuss the film with the audience after the screening.
Hamdan, Through the Gate of Tears: Backstage is a modern ballet that celebrates one man’s journey from his homeland of Oman to East Africa. Oman, which lies on the southeast coastline of the Arabian Peninsula, is a land filled with Wadis deserts, beaches and mountains. Using modern dance and contemporary Afro-Arabian music, Hamdan tells the story of his momentous decision to leave his country for a better life and set sail aboard a dhow headed to Zanzibar. This ballet presents modern dance styles as it explores the folktale of Hamdans journey, steeped in the cultural traditions of Oman and East Africa. Mercer’s choreography brings this impassioned tale to life.
“We are delighted at the National Museum of African Art to show this unique documentary at this year’s San Diego Film Festival”, Shivers said. This is a first for the museum and an opportunity to bring this exceptional story about the beauty of Oman and the Swahili coast to a new audience.
The ballet was presented by Howard University’s Department of Theatre Arts with Howard University students, faculty and professional dancers, including alumni Howard University dance majors, from the Washington area and featured choreography by Mercer, principal dancer for Broadways The Lion King.
About Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa
In November 2013, the museum launched a multiyear series of programming, Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa to highlights the cross-cultural connections of East and North Africa with those found in the Middle East. It showcases the evolution of Omani arts and cultures, the beauty of the arts in Oman and its connections to the East African Coast. This partnership was made possible by the Sultan of Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. For more information about Connecting the Gems, visit here.
About the National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art is America’s only museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about this program, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the museum’s website at Africa.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.
Note: To arrange interviews or for selected high-resolution images, contact Eddie Burke at (202) 633-4660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.