A thousand and one night by Cinemaximilaan

Cinemaximiliaan was a cinema evening for people living in the refugee camp in the Maximiliaan Park (Brussels) that nowadays is closed. The project started spontaneously screening films to people get distracted from bad moments. Quickly, the volunteers discovered newcomers with great artistic talent. The project then grew and the organization now leads other cultural projects and daytrips across Belgium, screening films in asylum centers.

Kaai Studio’s in Brussels discovered them and invited some artists to perform in their space, accessible to all kind of public, including refugees. The evening was called A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS:

Hussein Rassim, an ud player from Iraq.
Shalan Alhamwy, a violonist from Syria.
Mohammed Aukal, a dabke dancer from Palestine.

Three magnific performances, all different from each other.

Hussein Rassim and the pole dancers


That evening I saw something I didn’t expect: pole dance with Ud music, in a creation by Ana Cembrero. The result was a curious and exciting mix called #Migrations that surprised everybody, including me.

This time Ana danced with the pole dancer Nathalie Lenoir, who succeeded to make us believe that the pole didn’t exist more than as space where to move vertically.

Ana and Nathalie together succeeded to create an extremely sensitive piece, explaining the animal process of migration at the same time that they brought pole dance to another state mixing it with contemporary dance. And thanks to the music of Hussein, we were moved to a very spiritual world, outside of our place where hope and free movement exist.

Shalan Alhamwy and his videos


The second to stand on stage was the violinist Shalan Alhamwy and he did it also in an original way. He showed us two videos completely of his creation and he played his violin between the two videos. The songs were completely different to what I am used to listen, so at the beginning I did not understand what he was playing, but after getting used to it, I saw the beauty and tradition of his compositions. Then notes flowed around the big room of Kaai Studio’s.

We can have good memories in dark moments


And the last performers, with a short interpretation of the sad situations in the life of a refugee, showed us that even in bad moments, family and friends are always with us. They danced Dabke, a Palestinian traditional dance used for weddings, one of the happiest moments in life. They showed us how to enjoy this party and the encouraged us to join their hope in live with our palms.

In conclusion, I have to say that I could not expect this kind of event: performances by refugees for refugees. We have always the horrible image on TV that refugees are poor people, maybe without studies and big families, but that is not completely true. Behind this image we receive, there are people that worked, with high studies, great artists and culture.


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