In the early 1970s, Joseph Nemr, father of artistic director Andrew J Nemr, found himself working as a hired hand on a construction site. It was an odd job. Something to earn some money in the midst of the still young civil war that would engulf Lebanon until 1991. Joseph and his fellow workers were charged with getting water, clearing rocks, and pouring cement, laying the foundation for a new building for the Cedar Home for Girls, an orphanage that had been serving orphaned girls since 1961.
Fast forward to earlier this fall, as Cats Paying Dues artistic director Andrew Nemr is finalizing plans for CPD10. It has been a long standing belief of Andrew’s that the work he does has to be more than just another tap dance. With particular attention to CPD10, a self-indulgent celebration wouldn’t do, but where would the greater meaning come from? Andrew wanted something personal, something tangible, something that pushed against the darkness that he saw in the world.
And there was much darkness to push against – military and civil conflicts, poverty, disease, etc. A lot of meaningful work was being done by amazing organizations pushing back against challenges faced by people across the continents. How to narrow the focus? Both of Andrew’s parents were born in Beirut, Lebanon, a country currently wedged between conflicts in Syria and Israel/Palestine. The country isn’t far removed from the conflict in Iraq either. Lebanon became a geographic focus. But who and how to help? The answer was simple: the children.
As part of an ongoing family exercise in oral history Joseph had shared his story about the orphanage with Andrew one night, and everything clicked. CPD10 would become a vehicle through which light might be shed and support given to the work of Cedar Home for Girls. The company’s celebration would be able to affect real change in an area of the world that desperately needs it and that Andrew could speak to personally.
And so it is that all proceeds from CPD10 and the World Premiere of Three Tap Dance Suites will go directly to Cedar Home. The funds will be used to complete expanded living space for the orphanage allowing the organization to serve more girls.
Tap dance can really change lives.