Camels for Candoco – memories and mud in the Middle East

| by Kostas Papamatthaiakis

Tags: Company blog

Candoco Dance Company has been performing in Palestinian Territories and Jordan. Dancer Kostas Papamatthaiakis shares some memories.

  • (c) Shadi Baker
  • (c) Shadi Baker
  • (c) Shadi Baker
  • (c) Shadi Baker

Arriving in Ramallah, it was impossible not to see that this country is very closely connected with religion. Minarets, domes, crescent symbols are everywhere, introducing us to a different vibe. We were told that any public display of affection is prohibited and we tried our best to behave on this trip – with a few exceptions of unrestrained joy now and then. It’s hard to see that people are obliged to have social barriers to their emotions.

Concrete walls and checkpoints define the borders of Palestine, which really makes you feel intimidated every time you cross them. We were just visitors and that made things easier, but still we had to accept that the scale of things there was different and we tried to be discreet.

Our performances for this trip had an additional piece of fabric for our lovely girls. Skin-coloured unitards had to be worn underneath the costumes to make their bodies less exposed. Noticeable or not, the audiences had a very positive response and seem to enjoy it. Because of additional rehearsals, we had only one day to explore Palestine. We took the coach to Jerusalem to see the Wailing Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the Church of Holy Sepulchre.

Our next destination was Jordan. Palms and olive trees surround north Amman, and that’s where their futuristic airport is located. Four hours drive from Amman and we were in Petra. A day in Petra was probably not enough, but it is definitely long enough for a camel ride – a highlight of this tour.

Before the day was finished, we had a climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice. The walk was a bit rough but we didn’t want to give up. Reaching the top was very satisfying. The view of Petra was spectacular and rewarding. For me this moment felt more spiritual and more meditational than anything else before. I lay on a heated rock; near me a small lizard made an appearance.

On our last day, although we had a flight to catch, some of us still wanted to have a brief swim in the Dead Sea. Floating vertically and horizontally without any effort was enough to cheer us up, and then came the transformation into weird creatures as we covered ourselves with black mud from the Dead Sea.

Overall this trip was definitely a rich cultural experience. From crossing restricted checkpoints to the vast desert, I would still be happy to dive in and do this all over again. There is so much more of Middle East I want to explore but I am saving it for a future visit. For now, as I am finishing this blog, I am trying to collect all the memories like puzzle pieces to make them part of my own history. Then I can accurately convey them in the future.

Kostas Papamatthaiakis is a dancer with Candoco, who have been touring in Jordan and Palestinian Territories.

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