Sufi-rock bands from Lahore…a comedy trio from Karachi…master Haitian troubadours…puppetry and Hip Hop collectives from Yogyakarta…power-house contemporary dance companies

from Port-au-Prince and Padang…

Acclaimed at home but little-known to many Americans, 10 ensembles from Pakistan, Haiti, and Indonesia are available for U.S. tours as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Center StageSM initiative.  In partnership with the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), Center StageSM will bring 10 international performing arts ensembles to the United States for month-long tours. Arts presenters and communities interested in hosting any of these ensembles are encouraged to contact Lisa Booth Management, Inc at 212.921.2114 or  Tours are being routed this summer and fall; tour schedules will be announced in 2012.

Center StageSM implements Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” where the United States uses every tool at its disposal – in this case the performing arts – to bring people together for greater understanding.  Center StageSM is designed to provide opportunities for international performing artists to engage with diverse communities, including youth, throughout the United States, and will offer Americans the chance to grow in understanding and appreciation of other nations.  These tours provide for deeper engagement for both Americans and visiting artists, who will return home with direct experiences to share in their own communities.

Each of the 10 groups will make independent month-long tours between June and December 2012 to four to seven different American communities.  With an emphasis on reaching audiences in small and mid-sized cities, each group will offer performances, workshops, discussions, artist-to-artist exchanges, visit local museums, and attend community events. The first stop on each tour: Washington, D.C., and an opening performance on the Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

The inaugural Center StageSM performing arts ensembles are:

  • Arieb Azhar (Islamabad, Pakistan) With his powerful, expressive baritone, Azhar leads a quartet of acoustic musicians in an eclectic mix of urban and folk-based songs grounded in Sufi and other humanist poetries from the subcontinent and Europe.  “As Arieb Azhar renders the works of Sufi virtuosos, his voice resonates with singular devotion.”  (Coke Studio, Pakistan)
  • BélO (Pétion-Ville, Haiti), has been hailed as Haiti’s musical ambassador to the world.  A socially conscious singer-songwriter with a sophisticated sound, BélO and his band deliver a high-energy mix of Jazz, Worldbeat, Rock, Reggae and Afro-Haitian traditional rhythm known as Ragganga. and
  • Compagnie de Danse Jean-René Delsoin (Pétion-Ville, Haiti) Delsoin’s outstanding, vibrant dancers and drummers embody choreography that captures Haiti now --- raw and refined, spiritual, powerful, and precarious.
  • Jogja Hip Hop Foundation (Yogyakarta, Indonesia) This sharp Javanese rap collective promotes tolerance and pluralism with hooks that meld global rhythms, gamelan music, ancient Javanese poetry and literature.
  • Nan Jombang (Padang, Indonesia) The island of Sumatra is home to this family of artists whose work is a compelling mix of Minangkabau performing arts traditions (drumming, dance, martial arts) and contemporary movement.  Percussive, persuasive and explosive modern dance.   
  • noori (Lahore, Pakistan), one of Pakistan’s top pop bands, helped define Sufi-rock.  “As one of the leading names in Pakistan’s music industry, noori is often credited for revitalizing rock music for Pakistan’s youth.” (Coke Studio, Pakistan)
  • Papermoon Puppet Theatre (Yogyakarta, Indonesia) In a country with world-renowned puppetry traditions, the young, expert artists of Papermoon are extending the form and creating works that imaginatively explore identity, society and  Indonesia’s recent past.
  • Ti-Coca & Wanga-Nègès (Port-au-Prince, Haiti) masters of Haiti’s acoustic twoubadou (troubadour) tradition, Ti-Coca and his band are “a loose-limbed, rootsy treat.” (BBC News)
  • Very Live (Karachi, Pakistan) Up to the minute sketch comedy, and satiric mirth from a trio of sweetly smart cut-ups:  Saad Haroon (Pakistan’s separated-at-birth Jon Stewart comedic twin), Danish Ali (the doe-eyed and goofy sidekick) and guitarist Amin Arif.
  • Zeb & Haniya (Lahore, Pakistan) This acclaimed singer-song writing duo paved the way for many female musicians active on the Pakistani music scene today. Original songs and newly interpreted tunes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia carve a space for music that transcends national boundaries.

About NEFA and Center StageSM
Based in Boston, NEFA (New England Foundation for the Arts) provides leadership and resources that benefit artists, the public, arts funders, and policymakers throughout New England, nationally and internationally.  NEFA was established in 1976 as one of six regional arts organizations designed to cultivate the arts regionally and strengthen the national arts infrastructure.

Center StageSM is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  It is administered by NEFA, in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with additional support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council.  General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.


For Booking Inquiries
Lisa Booth Management, Inc.