When you think of Tango in Lebanon, one name instantly pops into your mind.
Mazen Kiwan comes from a background of contemporary dance, and since 1999 he has been teaching, performing and taking part in numerous international tango festivals around the world. In 2009, Kiwan organized the first tango festival in the Middle East, in his native country.
As a choreographer and dancer, he has also participated in several theatre pieces and films, including La Demoiselle d’Honneur by Claude Chabrol (2004) and L’Homme de Sa Vie by Zabou Breitmann (2006).
After living for 18 years abroad, Kiwan decided to come back to Lebanon. Being one of the four judges of the Arab Dancing with The Stars, he was able to attract more people into the world of dancing.
“I love my land, I love my family… and although I enjoyed more security abroad and my work was easier, I still felt the urge to be here, and do something in my home country.”
From the village of Bater el Chouf, Kiwan felt that his role was bigger amongst his people. For him, Tango is more than a dance; it is a way of dealing with one another, of communicating through our bodies. “When my students dance, they forget all their differences, which would be a source of conflict in another environment. On the dance floor, they are harmonious, peaceful…”
According to Kiwan, human relations in Lebanon are better than anywhere else.
“People are warm here. When two Lebanese friends greet each others, they hug. This is not common everywhere around the world”.
In 2009, Mazen created the Beirut International Tango Festival and introduced international artists to his homeland: “They come from everywhere, Argentina, Greece, Germany, Turkey,
”Tango is like a family for Kiwan: “People meet almost every night to dance, they don’t judge each other, they build new connections, and it helps them overcome a lot of personal problems.”
“I read an article once where the writer said that to be happy, a human being needs 16 hugs a day”, he said, before adding, “and dance gives you this body contact that is essential for happiness”.
“When it comes to dance techniques, Tango allows you to feel the weight of the other person, you work on gravity, and then you receive feelings and express them.”
One of Kiwan’s ambitions was to “democratize Tango”, make it accessible to all Lebanese, from any social class. This is why the festival travels not only in the capital Beirut, but also in other cities like Byblos, and even in smaller villages. It is worth mentioning that Tango in Lebanese villages will be the subject of a new project with Maya Noun and Patricia Cherfan to which contributors are welcome (for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tango is art, love and communication. Two people from completely different backgrounds, coming together, embracing beauty and creating a third entity that is built on harmony.