LOS ANGELES: Lo and behold, the suspense is over. The Lebanese dance troupe Mayyas won the 17e show season America’s Got Talent. Behind the scenes, members of the troupe gave an interview to Arab News. They say they can’t believe this victory.
Under the cheers of the public, the dancers of Mayyas jump for joy. They have just won the sum of one million dollars (1 dollar = 1 euro).
“What is happening to us is really incredible,” says one of the dancers to Arab News after celebrating the troupe’s victory on stage. “To come to this after all the hard work we put in… We left our jobs, our schools and our universities in order to train every day to end up here and win the competition on behalf of the troop, but also for the Lebanon. We have realized our dearest wish”, confides a dancer.
“We were very stressed about having to prepare a dance in two or three days. However, when we got on stage and heard the cheers from the audience, it gave us a boost and gave us an adrenaline rush. We won”, rejoices another dancer.
The team’s choreographer, Nadim Cherfan, says: “This victory allows me to dream again. When you have a dream and you realize it, you start thinking about another dream. So I’m very happy that there is a reason to hope, dream and fight.”
“I AM SO PROUD @mayyasofficial YOU DESERVE IT!!!!” writes Sofia Vergara, member of the jury ofAmerica’s Got Talent on Twitter, after the troupe won the competition.
The dancers gave Sofia Vergara a necklace adorned with a cedar, the symbol of Lebanon, which she showed during her interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBCI, a Lebanese television channel, editor’s note) after the broadcast of the ‘episode.
“I come from Barranquilla, Colombia. In my city, we have a huge Lebanese community, including Shakira. So we grew up eating Lebanese food and dancing to Lebanese music. It is a country that is really close to my heart, ”she told the Lebanese television channel.
“I am very happy to know that, in these difficult times that we are going through, a show as beautiful as that of the Mayyas troupe can distract everyone,” she continues. “I am extremely happy that this is happening. These young women deserve the best.”
As for Simon Cowell, member of the jury, he says: “It’s huge. It’s really huge that they represent their country with so much talent, dignity and grace. The whole world is watching them.”
“I felt all the energy they gave off in the room. I said to myself that no one was capable of beating them,” he adds. “They are so extraordinary, so kind. I was not surprised. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear their name at the time of the results.”
What’s the next step? Mr Cowell believes the Mayyas dance troupe could ‘take over the world’.
During their victorious performance last Tuesday, the dancers set the stage on fire with Arabic music. Dressed in white outfits, they waved feather fans and sparkling globes of light.
The audience waved Lebanese flags around the hall to cheer on the troupe.
The four judges – Vergara, Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel – gave the dancers a standing ovation.
“Fabulous. Another level,” says Vergara, who awarded Mayyas the gold buzzer after their first audition last June.
“That’s what a million dollars looks like!” Enthuses Heidi Klum for her part. “You gave your best every time you came, and tonight was even better.”
As for Howie Mandel, he reveals: “It’s my favorite performance in America’s Got Talent.”
“It’s great for you. It’s great for women, female emancipation, your culture…”, he adds.
The band received support from their Lebanese fans throughout the competition. LBCI launched an advertising campaign in the United States, with the slogan “Kermalak Ya Lebnen– (“For you, Lebanon”), to promote Mayyas.
LBCI supported the group through advertisements broadcast on its television channels and social networks; she also collaborated with local and Arab media in the United States to boost the campaign.
“Lebanese all over the world have shown us enormous support,” Cherfan told Arab News. “We have received a lot of messages. Everyone supports Mayyas. Everyone encourages Mayyas. So I am very grateful to the Lebanese Diaspora, who really support Mayyas.”
Many celebrities have also contributed to increasing the group’s notoriety.
“May you come back with the title”, writes the Lebanese singer Maya Diab on her story Instagram after their final performance. “You have elevated the name of Lebanon by showcasing art in a way that gets people talking about it around the world. We love you and we’re proud of you no matter the outcome.”
Star Haifa Wehbe also supported the group ahead of the final result.
“Mayyas wowed the judges and the audience withAmerica’s Got Talent with a spectacular performance. Keep voting,” she said.
Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen, who lives in Dubai, wrote: “Speechless. It just keeps getting better,” sharing a clip from their latest performance.
The Mayyas have a history of winning for quite some time when it comes to TV talent contests.
Cherfan, who was 14 years old when he fell in love with the world of dance, formed the group in order to participate in the sixth season ofArabs Got Talent. On this occasion, the group wowed the spectators, impressing in particular the judge and Lebanese pop star Najwa Karam, who granted them an immediate entry into the final with his golden buzzer. They were eventually crowned champions.
“I chose a women’s team because I wanted to send a message about the emancipation of women. Indeed, we all know that even today Arab women are still called names because they dance. I wanted to prove how elegant, refined and beautiful dance is. And who can do it better than these gorgeous ladies?” Cherfan told Arab News.
However, winning one of the most prestigious titles in the Middle East was not enough. “Success comes with self-imposed pressure to do even better. The golden buzzer, the ovation, the nice comments from the judges and winning the title are challenges because they are synonymous with stress and responsibility. In those moments, all I think is, “What’s next? How can I do better?”, says Cherfan.
In the same year, Mayyas took part in Britain’s Got Talent: The Championsa spin-off from Britain’s Got Talent in which he was the only group from the Middle East to participate.
The reaction of the judges and the public was extraordinary. “Absolutely brilliant – brilliant, inventive… [Je n’ai] never seen such a dance in one of these emissions”, had declared at the time Simon Cowell.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com