By Michaele Jordan: Friends, you probably didn’t expect to see a dance review on File 770. What does a dance performance have to do with SF/F? Hard to explain, but you’ll understand when you see it (which you can do here. Perhaps their name will give you hint. Mayyas is a Lebanese word meaning ‘the proud walk of a lioness’.
The Mayyas are a Lebanese all-female alternative precision dance group. (Female dancers are rare in Lebanon, and all-female anything even rarer.)
The company has 36 dancers, and their routines are choreographed by their founder, Nadim Cherfan. They’ve won a lot of awards in all those ‘Got Talent’ shows: In 2019, they reached the semi-finals in Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions, and took first place in Arabs Got Talent. Then in 2022 they won America’s Got Talent, snagging the Golden Buzzer in the process.
Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati praised them, as did the Lebanese army command. President of the Republic General Michel Aoun awarded them the Lebanese Order of Merit. They also out-performed Beyoncé at the opening of the Atlantis Royal Dubai Hotel.
(Want to see another? Click here.)
If you haven’t watched the attached videos yet, let me explain further why the Mayyas seem skiffy to me. They are described as a ‘precision dance group’. And they are precise – as meticulously choreographed as a Busby Berkeley routine, where every dancer’s wrist or ankle exactly matches the wrists and ankles of all the others. But while a Busby Berkeley performance is like a marching band with sequined girls doing high kicks, the Mayyas are soft and sinuous. (How’s that for an odd concept – soft, sinuous precision?)
The dancers are not arranged in a circle or a forward-facing line so that the audience can admire how they match. More often they are in single file, so that seen from the front, the silhouettes merge into each other. Only the arms remain separate, but the movements of these are perfectly synchronized. The overall effect is of a single multi-armed dancer – or a Hindu god summoning the faithful, or maybe a giant sentient snake, seducing its prey. It’s very alien and utterly entrancing. (Here’s another.)