Friday, January 18 • 7:30 pm


Valéncia Arts Center
1164 W. Howard Street
Winona, MN 55987


All tickets $15

The Cedar Tree Project: Za’atar

Named for a blend of Middle Eastern spices, Za’atar is an evening featuring three dynamic, female, Arab American, contemporary artists: Leila Awadallah, Sharon Mansur, and Leyya Mona Tawil. Each utilizes interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to create evocative dance/performance/visual environments while addressing distinct aspects of Arab culture and identity, drawing from Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese heritages. This event will feature solo work by each artist as well as a newly devised collaborative trio.

Sharon Mansur

Sharon MansurSharon Mansur is a Lebanese-American, Winona based contemporary dance and visual artist, experimentalist, educator, curator, mover and shaker. Sharon’s creative practice and research integrates improvisational techniques, somatic practices, and interdisciplinary collaborative approaches. She has a keen interest in aspects of identity and site responsive art, weaving the visual and visceral, body and space, internal and external landscapes. She is also committed to dance as a transformational and healing catalyst for individuals and communities. Her performance projects and dance films have been presented throughout the United States and abroad. She has recently received support from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and is a 2018 McKnight Dance Fellow. Sharon was also a guest artist at the 2018 International Dance Day Festival Lebanon. www.mansurdance.com

Leila Awadallah

Leila Awadallah HeadshotLeila Awadallah is a Palestinian-American dancer, choreographer, film maker and interdisciplinary performance artist based in the Twin Cities. She holds a BFA in Dance and a minor in Arabic Language and Literature from the University of Minnesota. Her creative work unfolds within the intersections of diasporic Arab identity, Palestinian stories, and building a deeper connectivity with ancestry as it lives in the body’s cellular memory. She crafts with intentional response to the ways mainstream media / histories erase, vilify, and distort Arab and Palestinian peoples. Her research in creating Arab Contemporary Dance has recently brought her into living, learning, and performing in Lebanon and Palestine. Leila’s choreography has been presented at the Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Rawi Arab Literature Conference (Minneapolis), and BIPOD Dance Festival (Beirut, Lebanon). Leila is a company member of the touring ensemble Ananya Dance Theatre (2013), and a co-creator of Kelvin Wailey dance trio (2016). Leila received a SAGE Award (2016) for her work in film, a Jerome Travel Grant (2018) to study dance in Palestine, and is currently a Springboard 20/20 Fellow (2018 – 2019).

Leyya Mona Tawil

Leyya TawilLeyya Mona Tawil is an interdisciplinary artist working with dance, sound and performance practices. Tawil is a Syrian, Palestinian, American engaged in the world as such. Her articulation of Arab Experimentalism embeds political sub-narratives and cultural confusions into the performance fabric. Tawil has a 23-year record of choreographies and performance scores that have been presented throughout the US, Europe and the Arab world. She is a 2018 Saari Residence Fellow (Finland) and an AIRSpace Resident Artist at Abrons Art Center (NYC). Tawil is the director of DANCE ELIXIR and TAC, a venue in Oakland-CA. www.danceElixirLIVE.org

This event is part of The Cedar Tree Project. Throughout the 2018-2019 season, the Cedar Tree Project explores identity through the lens of Arab and Arab American artists. Curated by Winona dance/visual artist Sharon Mansur, events will include performances and exhibitions as well as workshops and community gatherings with visiting artists.


Clean Water Land and LegacyThe Cedar Tree Project is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


700 Terrace Heights
Winona, MN 55987



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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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