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She has been a classical ballet dancer for 28 years with degrees in French literature and a master’s in marketing from USJ and Sorbonne Paris IV, followed by a master’s in marketing and advertising. Mia Habis found her grounding as a dancer and teacher at Maqamat in 2008, immersing herself in the alphabet of contemporary dance. In 2015, the artistic committee appointed her as the artistic director of the annual BIPOD – Beirut International Platform of Dance and Moultaqa Leymoun. She discusses BIPOD 2024, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Beirut from April 16 to 21, 2024, in “non-traditional venues.”

Mia Habis Artistic Director of annual BIPOD Beirut International Platform of Dance and Moultaqa Leymoun.

The artistic and life partnership between Mia Habis and Omar Rajeh is as steadfast as the fixed points of a dancer, yet theirs are in perpetual motion. They guide them towards new horizons. In 2021, Omar Rajeh was named Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Mia Habis oversees the international distribution and production of the Omar Rajeh | Maqamat company. She is also a co-founder of the digital cultural platform, The two artists return to Beirut with their innovative projects, marking a return to their origins. Thus, BIPOD 2024 is born, in the continuation of their creative movement.

“For this 20th edition of our festival, our motivation has been rooted in a complex and powerful alchemy, shaped by both our past experiences and what we have nurtured over the years, as well as by the painful losses recent circumstances have imposed upon us,” states Mia Habis. “What infuses us with renewed energy is the unwavering enthusiasm and passion of artists, both Lebanese and international, the commitment of our cultural partners and finally, the deep and constant connection with our audience, who continuously inquire about the next edition of BIPOD, demonstrating support that transcends challenges,” she continues.

Omar Rajeh
Photo: Julien Piffaut

Regarding the 20th anniversary of BIPOD, she affirms, “This milestone represents a strong symbol of resilience, memory, struggles and perseverance, underpinned by an unshakable faith in the power of art to bridge gaps and dismantle barriers. We view this anniversary as evidence of the strength of artistic commitment against all forms of oppression, censorship and exclusion. Our festival aims to be a celebration for Lebanese artists and audiences alike, as well as a welcoming stage for talents from around the world, opening a window for future generations. In the context of a Lebanon facing countless challenges, our event stands as a symbol of creativity and free expression, ensuring that, even in the darkest moments, dialogue with the world of dance remains open and vibrant. This is our humble contribution, through the art of dance, to ensure that Lebanon, despite being deprived of much, remains connected to the vital force and richness of global culture.”

Mia Habis highlights the challenges of organizing the festival in 2024 in Beirut, “It has never been easy. It has always been about overcoming obstacles of various sizes and natures, not only in recent years but since the very beginning, 2002, 2004… Establishing Maqamat, then launching BIPOD in Lebanon, and reaching the 20-year milestone for the festival has been a formidable journey, albeit fraught with hurdles.” Their motivation? “What has enabled us, not to bypass, but to confront these challenges, whether in Lebanon or elsewhere, is our unwavering conviction and determination. We have stayed the course by constantly and sincerely reminding ourselves why we do what we do and recalling the positive impact the festival has had on individuals, artists and the country itself. Challenges either strengthen or break relationships. Well, we are still here. Because we are convinced. Because we love what we do, and no one can take away who we are, our motivation, or our dances. Culture has the power to speak out, to denounce, to illuminate, and it is our duty and responsibility as artists to continue to fight and advance.”

Omar Rajeh
Photo: Julien Piffaut

Elaborating on the theme of BIPOD 2024, she attests, “Our 20th anniversary has prompted us to deeply revisit and reflect on the essence, format, and necessity of our festival in these challenging times. This year’s theme is a call to action focused on ‘doing’ and ‘sharing.’ We have adopted an approach encapsulated in the subtitle To do. To share. This guiding principle inspired us to reimagine the festival’s format, which will unfold in non-traditional venues, fostering greater public participation and facilitating more intimate interactions with the artists.”

Discussing the vision for BIPOD 2024, Mia Habis concludes, “Our vision is for a festival to be appreciated as a whole, incorporating a wide diversity in the nature of the events offered: dance performances, creative laboratories, round tables, professional meetings, as well as encounters between the public and the artists, workshops and immersive experiences. This new format aims to present a condensed three-day festival, teeming with creativity, deeply immersive and decidedly innovative. Our intention is to mirror the richness and complexity of our era, providing a space for meeting and expression that resonates with the challenges and possibilities of our time. BIPOD will witness the emergence and explosion of dance in new formats and in all its forms. Beyond dance, it will also serve as a venue for countless encounters, a space for exchange and sharing, and a rich and revitalizing cultural experience set in a festive atmosphere.”

Instagram: @mariechristine.tayah