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Mideast Artistry


The "Mizrahi Festival" Sunday at the Skirball Cultural Center will celebrate the music, dance, crafts and food of the Middle East.

The family-oriented event will feature the arts and crafts of Israel, Iran, Armenia, Turkey--and even Bedouin and Sufi cultures.

Yair Dalal, whose work embraces Arab Jewish classical musical compositions, is one of the several individual artists who will perform. He plays such instruments as the oud and the tabla.

The native of Iraq has developed "a rare mix of traditional and modern, Jewish and Arab, and Oriental and Western music," said Yatrika Shah-Rais, music programmer at the Skirball. On Sunday, Dalal will introduce festival-goers to the Tarab Ensemble, instrumentalists from the Azazme tribe of Bedouins of the Negev desert who play the lyre, oud, cane flute and percussion instruments.

Also on the program is Tehran-born, Woodland Hills-bred Banafsheh Sayyad, a dancer and choreographer who was part of last year's World Festival of Sacred Music. On Sunday her Namah Ensemble will include Mexican American and Jewish American dancers.

A special feature of her program will be a solo dance performed to music by percussionist Pejman Hadadi. "He's the finest Iranian percussionist living in the West," Sayyad said. He will open her ensemble's performance with a 10-minute percussion solo.

Armenian culture is the source of the myths and fables for Lebanon-born storyteller Aldiz Agbabian. Her presentation, in English and Armenian for an audience of all ages, will be accompanied by percussionist Henrig Avoyan.

Artisans at the festival will showcase jewelry, silver crafts, prints, wall hangings and musical instruments from such Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries as Turkey, Israel and Morocco. A toddler playroom and interactive computer area will be open for other family members.


"Mizrahi Festival," family festival celebrating Jewish and other Middle East arts and crafts, takes place Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. in the Sepulveda Pass. Festival admission is $8 general, $6 for students and seniors, free for ages 12 and under and Skirball members. Reservations recommended. (323) 655-8587.

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