Bay Area Peace Forum

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The El Djazira Ensemble

The El Djazira Ensemble is based in Algiers, the capital of Algeria, along the Mediterranean coast. The group El Djazira — founded in 1992 — is both an intergenerational orchestra and functions as a school of music. Domestically they are highly regarded for their performances — in part because they have as a mission to be musical conservationists, protecting the heritage of classical music of Al-Andalus. Among their priorities is to focus on cultural equity; they provide the opportunity for girls and women to seek education through music. They also seek to perform internationally as one way to build cultural relationships and understanding.

Two members of the group will be featured at the Peace Forum: Bachir Mazouni – who plays violin and mandolin/mondol, and Mohamed Mazouni – who plays saxophone and piano. Bachir is also a composer and concertmaster of El Djazira. He has come from Algiers for this and other musical engagements while in the USA for two months.

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Enver Rahmanov

Enver Rahmanov was born in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and studied in Kiev, Ukraine before moving to the United States to work at the United Nations in New York. Currently, he is a student in Interreligious Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California) and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Mangalam Research Center for the Buddhist Languages. Working for the UN and volunteering with several faith-based organizations, including on Navajo land in Arizona and in Bodh Gaya, India, Enver has come to realize that the wisdom of peace, compassion and right actions is truly universal and has no borders but only different languages and interpretations. He is inspired by the Dalai Lama’s ethics beyond religion and “education of the heart,” a call to bring the indispensability of inner values of love, compassion, justice and forgiveness into education. Enver promotes interfaith dialogue by building personal heart to heart connections across religious borders and through his facilitation of Beyond Words: An Interfaith Ritual for Peace. Enver enjoys meditation, yoga, dance, bicycling, hiking, volunteering and travel.

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Carla DeSola

Carla DeSola is a pioneer in the field of liturgical dance, a teacher, choreographer and the author of The Spirit Moves: A Handbook of Dance. She is the founder of the Omega Liturgical Dance Company at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. She currently directs the Omega West Dance Company. The company is known for conducting workshops, choreographing for and performing concerts for religious services in churches, schools, retreat centers and for interfaith gatherings.[1]

DeSola graduated from Juilliard School of Music, as well as the Pacific School of Religion. At the 2008 SDG Golden Anniversary Festival she was named as one of the Living Legacies.[2]

When describing DeSola’s Omega Liturgical Dance Company, Mark Dietch of The New York Times has said that, “Liturgical dance…was virtually nonexistent in this country before Miss DeSola’s pioneering efforts.” [3] Modern Liturgy Magazine has said that “With an eye not only on ecumenical, but interfaith dialogue, her art embraces peace and justice. She dances on holy ground, always seeking to awaken people to the needs of planet Earth. Such a caring artistry, combined with a deep concern for liturgy, makes Carla DeSola the most influential performing artist of the last 20 years.” [4] DeSola describes her own work in her book, The Spirit Moves: A Handbook of Dance by saying that, “I pray that everyone, sitting cramped inside a pew, body lifeless, spine sagging and suffering, weary with weight and deadness, will be given space in which to breathe and move, will be wooed to worship with beauty and stillness, song and dance–dance charged with life, dance that lifts up both body and spirit, as we will be a holy, dancing, loving, praying, and praising people.” [5][6][7]

Carla DeSola is the co-creator of Beyond Words: An Interfaith Ritual for Peace. Originally created in November 2003, with the generous support from the Center for the Arts, Religion and Education of the Graduate Theological Union,[8] “Beyond Words” is an interfaith celebration with a common message of peace, and has been offered in houses of worship in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. This ritual is offered to communities because of the special relevance of interfaith dialogue in these critical times. DeSola recognizes the importance of shared interfaith input in the designing of each presentation of the event and invites the religious leaders to be an integral part of Beyond Words. Each production is tailored to the needs of the community and dimensions of their space.

She currently resides in Berkeley, California, where she has lived since 1990, teaching courses at the Graduate Theological Union, through the Center for the Arts, Religion & Education and the Pacific School of Religion.[9]