Cultural Diplomacy Program Center Stage Brings Contemporary Performers to United States

Arieb Azhar
Photo by Shahzad Ali Mirza
Center Stage is a trailblazing program designed to bring diplomacy to American towns and cities by presenting ten prominent foreign performing ensembles to the United States of America for month-long tours from June-December 2012.

The lineup includes Sufi-rock from Lahore, master Haitian troubadours, contemporary dance companies, puppetry, and hip hop from Yogyakarta.

The tours include a series of community engagement activities in over 60 different towns across the United States, including concerts, workshops, discussions, artist-to-artist exchanges, and community gatherings. The Center Stage website and social networks will make on-tour activities accessible to thousands of others in the U.S., in the artists’ home countries, and around the world.

The ten ensembles are:

Arieb Azhar (Islamabad, Pakistan): Global sonics bring new eloquence to age-old traditional poetry, thanks to this artful singer-songwriter and his band.

BélO (Pétion-Ville, Haiti): Haiti’s outspoken groove innovator, interweaves the Afro-Caribbean depths of Haitian tradition with a progressive voice for social and political transformation.

Compagnie de Danse Jean-René Delsoin (Pétion-Ville, Haiti): This company’s gorgeously entwined movement and sound embraces Haitian roots drumming, ballet technique, and modern dance aesthetics

Jogja Hip Hop Foundation (Yogyakarta, Indonesia): hip hop crew puts new spin on ancient Javanese poetry and traditional music

Nan Jombang (Padang, Indonesia): West Sumatran contemporary dance company burst open ethnic traditions and modern cultural tensions with body percussion, martial arts, and bold movement.

noori (Lahore, Pakistan): Pakistan’s premier power quartet busts through local convention and international rock barriers with brainy English-language and Urdu songs.

Papermoon Puppet Theatre (Yogyakarta, Indonesia): Non-verbal multimedia performances unravel Indonesian culture and history with appealing, challenging graphic boldness.

Ti-Coca & Wanga-Nègès (Port-au-Prince, Haiti): Light-hearted traditional acoustic music sways, seduces, and evokes a late-night dance rural party, no matter where the performance.

Very Live (Karachi, Pakistan): Comedic masterminds share their unique experience and their trademark send ups of stereotypes and international relations from a Pakistani perspective.

Zeb & Haniya (Lahore, Pakistan): This female singer/guitarist duo’s ingenious folk renditions and elegant originals span Central Asia with savvy warmth.

Center Stage is a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, and with additional support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. General management for Center Stage is provided by Lisa Booth Management.

More information at

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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