Six top performances by Mayyas, from the Fiba Asia Cup to 'America's Got Talent'

All-female Lebanese dance troupe's routines pay tribute to Arabic culture and dance traditions

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Lebanese dance company Mayyas is taking the US by storm thanks to their star turn on America's Got Talent this week.

For those in the Arab world, however, their success on the show is unsurprising.

Before wowing celebrity judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara with their golden buzzer-worthy performance, the ensemble had been capturing attention in the region for years with their spectacular routines informed by Middle Eastern culture.

"We aspire to offer a different take on the art of movement," choreographer Nadim Cherfan told The National in a previous interview.

"We aim to break the current stereotype in some parts of the region that dance is lowly or indecent, as it is the oldest form of expression and is inherent to the fabric of human folklore."

Here are five other noteworthy performances from Mayyas over the years.

Fiba Asia Cup (2017)

Prior to the television fame and acclaim, Mayyas were renowned within the Lebanese live events industry as a hard-working group.

In one of their earliest major shows, the group were chosen to perform as part of the opening ceremony for the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup, a basketball tournament held in Lebanon.

The footage shows how Mayyas refined their raw talent to become a world-class act.

'Arabs Got Talent' debut (2019)

It was the Arab world's introduction to this amateur dance company in Beirut.

Appearing as part of the sixth season of Arabs Got Talent, the crew made an immediate impact with a startling routine inspired by Arabic folkloric dance traditions.

When introducing the group to the celebrity judging panel comprising Lebanese singer Najwa Karam, Egyptian comedian Ahmed Helmi and Dubai television executive Ali Jaber, choreographer Nadim Cherfan described the group's approach as a "fusion of different styles".

"Practicing this kind of dance requires technique and patience as many mistakes will be immediately spotted," he said.

"We came to this programme because we wanted to dream. It has been a while since we had a cause to dream."

'Arabs Got Talent' finale (2019)

Mayyas emerged victorious out of a competitive line-up of 10 finalists, winning the television talent quest, which was broadcast live to millions across the Mena region on pan-Arab broadcaster MBC.

The win, which was decided solely through television audiences texting their votes, marked the first time a Lebanese act took home the title in the competition's six-season run.

In a dance routine that can be best described as "Beirut meets Las Vegas", the more than two dozen dancers of Mayyas were split between those wearing all-green, to resemble a peacock, and those with their bodies painted in gold as they took on the roles of warrior women.

The peacocks had dance moves straight out of the 1950s and 1960s, while the gilded women were front and centre with regional choreography, from belly dancing to hair-swaying.

In a particular prescient comment, Helmi said: “I don’t mean to be in any way disrespectful to the show, but in a way you guys are bigger than this programme… you are ready to take the next step and you can do great.”

'Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions' (2019)

It takes something special to elicit praise from the cantankerous Simon Cowell.

Mayyas achieved this when appearing in Britain's Got Talent: The Champions, an international spin-off of the British talent show.

Mayyas were one of 45 acts that competed in a pool that featured talent hailing from the UK, India, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Singapore and other countries.

As the Middle East's sole representative, the troupe did brilliantly.

Performing in front of a pyramid backdrop, they engaged in a fluid routine that created an enchanting vibe.

It was only two minutes long, but it was enough for the crowd and judging panel to be impressed.

"That was absolutely genius and inventive," Cowell said. "I’ve never seen a dance act like this ever on any of these shows."

El Gouna Film Festival (2020)

In 2020, Mayyas became the toast of the Arab film industry with a sparkling performance at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt.

As part of a televised ceremony, the group performed an energetic routine paying tribute to the golden age of Arabic cinema, with plenty of evocative handwork and belly dancing.

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Updated: June 28, 2022, 9:57 AM