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Peter and the Wolf Plays in Jordan

For immediate release: —

A don’t miss event! The School of Amman Ballet poises to entertain the community again in its 2nd show within the school’s first year: Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf will be presented at the Black Iris Festival on May 14th, 2010. Featuring the School of Amman Ballet, the production will be narrated by the ever popular comedian, Nabil Sawalha and feature professional dancers including Alaa Samman as the wolf, Shamil Shroukh and Lara Sawalha as Ivan the cat. Rosemary Martin a PhD. in Dance Studies from The University of Auckland, New Zealand, is contributing to the choreography of the show while she interviews dancers and gathers material for the book, Our Dance Stories, Middle East, part of a book series being published by I.B Tauris Publishing House, London.

The role of Peter will be played by the winsome dancer Serena Kishek, Sonia the duck by Raya Tuffaha and Sasha the bird by Tanja Torvinen, most recently having played Clara in The Nutcracker. Bring the whole family out early, on this National Family Day to the Black Iris Festival.

Peter and the Wolf will be performed at 12:30 p.m. only so you want to make sure you get good seats.  Admission to the show is free. Admission to the festival is required but at only 3 JD for children under 12 and 5 JD for adults, it is a bargain for a fun filled day.

The festival will continue with entertainment all day and activities for the entire family including bouncing castles, petting zoo, pony and camel rides, an open market and, of course, fantastic food. Exciting costumes are being created by KENZ, employing the graduates of the Al Hussein Society for the Habilitation and Rehabilitation of the Physically Challenged.

Peter and the Wolf production is made possible by our generous sponsors: Kentucky Fried Chicken, HomeHost.com, 97.7 Energy Radio, VIVA and Layalina magazines and the Ramada Hotel.

For more information about Peter and the Wolf or The School of Amman Ballet’s Community Outreach program contact Melissa Sweiss, Director at 077-630-1300.

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Amman International Dance Festival

Zakharef in Motion is holding the Amman International Dance Festival with Dance Companies around the world performing at the Al Hussein Cultural Center.  For more information call 079-592-9351.

  • April 29th @ 7:15 p.m. is Yaa Samar Dance Theatre from New York
  • April 30th @7:30 Amman Underground Hip Hop from Amman
  • May 1  @7:30 The Beirut Dance Company from Lebanon
  • May 2 @ 7:30 Company Vente De Sable, Algeria
  • May 4 @ 7:30 Company Chatha, Tunis
  • May 5 @ 7:30 Dance Company Theatre Osanbruck, Holland/Germany
  • May 6 @ 7:30 Company Thor, Belgium

Call 079-613-3300

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Great thanks

Dear Twinkle Toe Moms and Dads:

We had a great delivery of over 500 shoes to the Maeen Tent People children last Saturday, January 23rd. The children were ecstatic over their new “used” shoes and socks and a great thanks goes to Carrie Cole our organizer, Mary Elizabeth Diab and Rana Elfar for helping measure the little “toes” and handing out shoes. Also a huge thanks to all of our local schools and children who decorated boxes and filled them up with the precious shoes. Also we would like to thank the AWA for contributing more shoes and helping assist in the distribution.

If any of you would like to have an amazing experience, away from the “fluff” of everyday life, and like to join us on our next mission in Jeresh, January 30th, please contact Carrie Cole at 079-635-9618 or carrie@ammanballet.com. We really could use a few extra pair of hands to hand out shoes.

Lastly, if any of you were not able to drop off shoes at one of our locations, and you still have some shoes to donate, please bring them to Haya Center Ballet studio in Shumesani or to the Energy 97.7 Radio Station in the Haddad Plaza on Wadi Sugra by the end of the day tomorrow (Thursday). If you go to Energy 97.7 you can go up to the studio and meet the D.J.’s—fun trip for the kids .

Melissa Sweiss, Director
The School of Amman Ballet

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The School of Amman Ballet finds a New Home at the Haya Cultural Center in Shmesani

“Tucked into one of the busiest business districts of Amman, the Haya Cultural Center is targeting minds, and making an impact on the lives of nearly 50,000 Jordanian school children every year.”

“We are happy to be a part of the Haya Cultural Center.  Our mission at the School of Amman Ballet is to incorporate good ballet training with community outreach.  We thought we would find that by teaming up with other dance schools, but it seems those schools are primarily focused on the commercial aspect of dance training—not really congruous to our purpose. Our brief move to Tempo Dance Studios in the fall was a total disappointment.  The professional training environment we were promised simply did not exist”, shares Melissa Sweiss, Director of SAB

We have had some great highlights in 2009 and we are looking for even greater moments in 2010.  We are starting the year with the delivery of over 500 pairs of shoes to the Maen Tent People and the Gaza Camp in Jeresh.  On the cultural side we are looking forward to some more performances with the Amman Symphony Orchestra, a spring recital and of course the Nutcracker again in December.  This year we will focus on some underserved members of the community with classes for the Al Hussein Society for the Habilitation and Rehabilitation of the Handicap and the children of the At Risk Program of the River Jordan Foundation.

The Haya Cultural Center is located on Abdel Hameed Sharaf street at the center between the Arab Bank and the traffic light in front of the Almuthana pharmacy.


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In JO Magazine / Culture


JANUARY 06, 2010

SUGAR PLUM FAIRIES, MOUSE kings, dancing snowflakes and candy canes—it can only be The Nutcracker. The Dumas stage adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, set to Tchaikovsky’s famous suite, is a staple Christmas performance.

Words and photography by John Lillywhite.

(John Lillywhite)

SUGAR PLUM FAIRIES, MOUSE kings, dancing snowflakes and candy canes—it can only be The Nutcracker. The Dumas stage adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, set to Tchaikovsky’s famous suite, is a staple Christmas performance. But was an undertaking of this scale really feasible for the Amman School of Ballet, a company that’s only been around since May?

Ballet schools typically do a year-end revue to show off their students’ progress, but this one certainly went a bit beyond.

On December 10 and 11, just under 3,000 people attended the school’s production of The Nutcracker, which involved around 110 dancers, a children’s choir of 50 and, of course, the Amman Symphony Orchestra.


The duo behind performance are Melissa Sweiss, the founder and director of the Amman School of Ballet, and Rachel LaBonte, a former student of the Kirov Academy of Dance in Washington, DC who, after a 10-year hiatus, had decided to return to training, and perhaps one day to the stage. The two met for the first time in July, at Cups & Kilos, when Sweiss was still “putting feelers out” in regard to a major Christmas performance.

“At first, when Melissa suggested a performance of The Nutcracker, I was like: Are you mad?” LaBonte recalls.
“We agreed to do little vignettes instead,” chuckles Sweiss. “That’s how I sucked her in.”

The ballet quickly took on a life of its own. “Rachel’s favorite part was the land of sweets, but I really enjoyed the Christmas party,” explains Sweiss. “After that we thought, what about the battle scene? And so on and so on.” Over the next four and a half months, the project grew and grew.

“Almost everything was achieved through cold calling and a bit of luck. There were some real low points,” Sweiss says. “Many sponsors found it hard to imagine how tutus and ballet would help sell washing machines, or whatever. And there was the fact we were an unknown entity, and new to Amman.”

She and LaBonte list a dizzying array of setbacks, from having nowhere to rehearse to the costs of renting space at the Hyatt (tickets to the event had to be priced at JD25).

The Nutcracker would not have been possible without a huge amount of encouragement and support from local businesses and families. At one point there was no available space large enough to accommodate rehearsals for the hundreds of dancers and their amilies (and cars)—until the National Music Conservatory stepped up to offer its halls.

Sweiss and LaBonte originally wanted the matinee performance to be entirely charitable, until they ran into fundraising difficulties. So George and Sami Khoury paid for 100 girls from the Madrasati program to attend the performance, and gave everyone in the audience a goodie bag.

The costumes for the play were designed by local Jordanian businesswomen Hana Barkawi and the ladies at Kenz, a company that employs graduates from the Al Hussein Society for the Rehabilitation of the Physically Handicapped. Zalatimo sweets donated more than 6,000 pastries, while the owner of the Ramada Hotel and Suites arranged an after-party for the 120-member dance troupe.

As both Sweiss and LaBonte point out, The Nutcracker was not about foreigners coming in and putting on a show; at a certain point it seemed like half of Amman was involved in getting this show off the ground.

“Slowly but surely, whole families would come to watch rehearsals, and children as young as five or six would feel a sense of accomplishment and pride,” LaBonte concludes.

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Boys Class–Super Heroes

SAB is happy to announce a new class created specially for boys ages 7 and older. Super Heroes students learn the skills of balance, agility and strength accessing the time-tried tools of classical ballet training in a fun and exciting program.

For more information or to register, call 079-587-1575

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