May 12th 2023

TERRANEA: hakawatia of the sea by Body Watani

TERRANEA: hakawatia of the sea is a performance that weaves a contemporary mythology about Terranea, a sea spirit who gathers those that have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea. Developed collaboratively along the Lebanese and Sicilian coasts, in the lakes of Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota, US), and with Palestinian water wells and streams in mind, this dance performance integrates oral histories around bodies of water while delving into the memories water itself can hold. Dancers, musicians, and writers come together to imagine how to embody the lessons of this essential element. At the same time, we contemplate how our bodies are affected by absurd and deadly blockages, on land and in water, that impede free-flowing movement. Whereas in its past, the Mediterranean was a space of free and fluid migration, the sea is now marked with invisible borders and demarcations of power, with detrimental effects.

Through choreographies, this piece asks our bodies: How to unravel the ‘stuckedness’ that builds up and sinks deep under our skin? What grief exists at the moment of departure and which bone does it shake? Where are the songs of our ancestors stored, and how might we listen to their rhythm? What life giving connections can we find, of this earth and of the mythical realm? What is the memory of the sea?


Body Watani Dance Project Performers: Leila Awadallah, Noelle Awadallah, Nakita Kirchner, Emma Marlar, Sharitah Nalule, Erica Jo Vibar Sherwood

Second Wave | Guest + Local Performers: Fei Bi Chan (陈菲碧) , Aaliyah Christina, Phaedra Darwish, Chloe Grace Michels, Camila Rivero Pooley

Original Music composed by Renée Copeland with vocals by Amal Kawaash, oud by Clarissa Bitar, and percussion by Peter James Roduta

Mythology authored by writer Romy Lynn Attieh, translated by Rana Issa, read by Leila Awadallah, Wafika Loubani, and Farah Basyouni

Body Watani Dance Project

is led by Palestinian American dancers / artists Leila and Noelle Awadallah. It is both an improvisational movement practice + an emerging Arabic-rooted contemporary dance form and the name of their ensemble dance company based between Minneapolis and Beirut. (Watani translates to homeland in Arabic). The Body Watani movement practice is a container with soft edges, where improvisational research guides practitioners into their personal ‘body watani’, or body-as-homeland through spending time with ancestries, contemplating our complex relations to land / water / home, and activating embodied memories into one’s own dancing. Body Watani performances explore contemporary movement that unravels from living and embodied relationships to Arabic / SWANA / Mediterranean lands by way of traditional dance techniques, music of the region, and cultural / political contentemplations. The work is informed by many teachers and honors a long lineage of influences, yet manifests from the specific artistic compass of the lead artists being diasporic Palestinian daughters of a land (far away) under occupation, while being born and raised on a land (here) under occupation – Turtle Island. Learn more at

Leila Awadallah  ليلى عوض الله (she/her)

is a dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker based in Minneapolis and partly in Beirut, Lebanon. Dancing with a body of Palestinian, Arab-American, Sicilian and diasporic Mediterranean ways and waves. Born near the Tehankasandata / Thick Wooded River (Sioux Falls, SD) she moved to Minneapolis, Mni Sota (2012) to pursue a BFA in Dance at the University of Minnesota, and found home in the Twin Cities. Leila is the Artistic Director of Body Watani Dance (body-as-homeland) project/practice in collaboration with Noelle Awadallah. She has received fellowships celebrating her performance, research in Arab-rooted contemporary dance, and choreographies: McKnight Dancer (2022), Jerome Hill (2021-2023), and Springboard 20/20 (2018). Leila was a member of Ananya Dance Theatre (2014 – 2019) training in Yorchha and mentored by Ananya Chatterjea. She is a co-founder of the Kelvin Wailey trio (2015-2023). Leila lives and works part time in Beirut where she collaborates with the Theater of Women of the Camp based in the Borj El Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp.

Noelle Awadallah  نوال

is a Palestinian American dancer, choreographer, and improviser who resides in Mni Sota Makoce (Minneapolis, MN). She is a co-collaborator with Leila Awadallah’s, Body Watani and in her 4th year as a company member of Ananya Dance Theatre. Her work is framed by her blurry identity in all of its honesty and dislocation. Constantly curious, and currently investigating future building through radical imagination of the senses. She was a recipient of the Diyar Theatre مسرح ديار residency in Bethlehem, Palestine 2019 and a recipient of the Hinge Arts Residency of Career Development in 2020. She teaches Body Watani practice in different studios and spaces around the Twin Cities. She holds a BFA from Columbia College Chicago (2018).


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