A dark night in the middle of September, around 70 people were standing in the ruins of the medieval Dome Cathedral in Tartu. “It should start at 9.30,” a woman was saying “Are they late with the the performance?”

They are not. It´s just that Maher Shawamreh, the contemporary dance artist from Palestinian Orient and Dance Theatre, is not the person to come from the side everyone is expecting to. It takes a moment for the audience

Dancing to Patrick Tubin McGinley´s sound installation “Echo of time”, Maher reflected on the migration between different places, times and spaces. For a month, from mid-September to mid-August, he had been in Estonia, creating together with people living in Estonia – some of them refugees who only had arrived a year ago, some of them people whose families had been living in the same village for generations. Maher was learning, teaching – and creating.

International House of Tartu, being part of Tartu – European Capital of Culture 2024, invited Maher to Estonia to contribute to creation of The Route Diverse (Maailma Maaliin), a piece of art that will be shown in 2024, and that focuses on exploring the multicultural societies. Already in 2020, while starting with The Route Diverse, we wanted to invite Maher to join because of the work he does with communities. Yet, getting the funding was complicated: every opportunity that was identified seemed to demand a several years long project with a massive number of activities. Until Anna Lindh Foundation, with the aim of promoting the closer networking and exchange of competencies and ideas between EuroMed countries, published a call that was just what we needed: one month mobility for those who work in the creative arts.

While Maher felt that one month – seemingly long time initially – was suddenly over so fast that he could have spent way more time in order to understand the context even better, and contribute to The Route Diverse main idea: to create ties between communities, he was happy for the mobility experience and felt the same way as we did at International House: it was valuable for all parts that he could be with us, and the time spent was fruitful and benefitted both International House and Orient and Dance Theatre, and also communities: “[With our artwork] we show people who come with different culture “we can hear you, we can see you, you are around, and you are part of us, and we should share our stories” – it is very beautiful” – Maher Shawamra

Maher´s performance in Dome Cathedral in YouTube

Anna Lindh Foundation call ALFinMotion

About Maher: Maher Shawamreh is Palestinian dance artist and choreographer. Electrical engineer by profession, he got inspired by contemporary dance in 1996 and has been performing in Palestine and other countries since 1999. Over the years he has been working together with many dance companies and artists such as Nicholas Rowe (AUS), Alain Platel (BEL), Koen Augustijnen (BEL), KVS Theater (BEL), Freedom Theater (PAL), Jenny Major (DK) and many others. In 2009, Maher founded Orient & Dance Theatre in Palestinian city Al-Bireh and has been it´s director since. Maher has been portrayed in the documentary “Rough Stage” (2015, director Toomas Järvet).
Maher Shawamreh was in Estonia as the guest artist for The Route Diverse, supported by Anna Lindh Foundation program ALFinMOTION