Lebanese cheer on Mayaas dance troupe who are now ‘America’s Got Talent’ champions

BEIRUT — News of a Lebanese dance group winning the “America’s Got Talent” television competition brought a rare moment of joy to many in the troubled Middle Eastern country on Thursday.

Mayyas, an all-female dance troupe, dazzled the show’s judges and audience in the competition’s 17th season before winning $1 million and a headlining show at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. . The group paid tribute to their native country during their performances and on social media during the preparation for the final.

Victory is a major boost for any budding artist. But inside Lebanon, where political leaders are scrambling to overcome years of economic and political turmoil, there has been a high-profile rush to congratulate the dance troupe.

Acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati and a handful of lawmakers congratulated Mayyas on social media, while President Michel Aoun’s office said in a statement that the Lebanese head of state would award dancers medallions of the Order. merit upon their return home.

In their winning hypnotic performance in the finale, Mayyas clad in golden outfits, as they floated in sync across the stage in a performance that brought together traditional belly dancing and inspirations from India, the United States and the United Kingdom. Uni, where their choreographer participated in years of dance workshops.

Holding white feathers, they formed a snow-covered cedar tree, Lebanon’s national symbol, before swinging together holding luminous balls like a moving constellation of stars.

The Lebanese, plagued by ongoing crises for years, found a rare moment of pride and joy in their country.

“I am one of the Lebanese citizens who over the past three years have gone through severe financial, psychological and social crises,” Mayyas fan Marie Ziyade told The Associated Press. “I always had hope in the people of my country, but Mayyas brought me joy.”

Lebanon’s crippling economic crisis has plunged three quarters of its population into poverty and led to a massive brain drain of young professionals leaving the country for better job opportunities abroad.

Nour Massalkhi is one of a growing number of young people in the country who have left Lebanon for better jobs and lives. Since leaving in 2019 when the economy collapsed, she says she has felt a sense of “anger and despair” watching her native country’s rapid decline from her new home in the United Arab Emirates.

But she says Mayyas’ journey to the top in “America’s Got Talent” is a “little ray of hope” that Lebanon needs.

“Their victory was just one example among the hundreds of other artists, innovators and entrepreneurs who continue to persevere abroad,” Massalkhi told the AP. “Everything, from the music to the choreography and even their outfits, is organized with extreme precision and honors our Lebanese roots.”

The dance group’s victory was never going to stop Lebanon’s economy from soaring or help break months of political stalemate and tension that followed decades of endemic corruption, infamous financial mismanagement and power sharing. sect-based power. But it may have brought a brief moment of hope for the struggling country.

“Mayyas is a merit-based group that brings together dance-loving and talented women who coordinate to produce creative and stunning work,” Ziyade said. “I wish our government had appointed ministers and civil servants the same way…we could have repaired our devastated country.”

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