Dance was an escape from all the bad things of war

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The Independent Culture
The great American choreographer Martha Graham was always attended by disciples, but even she would have been bowled over by the devotion of the group appearing at the Peacock Theatre next week.

Performed by Caracalla Dance Theatre, Elissa is a danced drama based on the original Phoenician Dido and her travails. It's a heady blend of mime and Martha Graham movements, in traditional Lebanese costume, and with a soundtrack drawn from musical forms found all over the Middle East. Both the show and the company are the brainchild of their choreographer, Abdel-halim Caracalla, who traces his choreographic pedigree back to his student days at the London School of Contemporary Dance. That, plus years of dedicated research, with camera and recorder, in Lebanese villages. But the most notable thing about the company is that from the start of the civil war in 1975, until its end in 1990, they never stopped performing, often in conditions of extreme danger. "Dance was an escape from all the bad things of war," says Tania Haroun, who takes the title role. No other performers in Lebanon showed such determination: they are local heroes there, and deserve to be feted here.

Peacock Theatre, London WC2 (0171-314 8800) 12-16 Nov

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