Schools Gear Up for Rock Challenge 2009

Final rehearsals take place across the emirates for popular dance competition event

By Steve Meunier

Published: Wed 29 Apr 2009, 9:58 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:12 AM

Final rehearsals are underway at schools across the UAE for this year’s Dubai Rock Challenge, which takes place on May 1-2 at GEMS World Academy. With the keenly contested competition now in its third season, secrecy predominates, as choreographers remain tight-lipped about the themes that will be showcased by their young protégés who represent the various academic institutions taking part in the two-day event.

One such organiser who was giving nothing away was Aysel Dumal, producer of the Rock Challenge, who is also putting on her own special performance as an adjunct to the main competition. Aysel’s show features pupils from a cross section of schools in the region, some of whom are competing against each other during the main contest.

“I can’t say too much away about my production, unfortunately,” she said during a break from a practice session taking place at the Wellington International School. “All I can tell you is that it features contemporary dance based around the theme of war and peace,” she added.

In addition to dealing with the logistics of setting up such a major event, Aysel is also busy putting together her own organisation, Aysel Dance Productions, and is keen to sign aspiring performers from four to 18 years of age.

Last year’s event attracted 14 schools from across the emirates to Dubai’s regional heat, with tickets selling out in advance.

The format for the competition is one that results in the winning troupe travelling off to a Rock Challenge abroad.

For the past two years, top honours have been awarded to students representing Dubai Scholars, with last year’s first place position achieved after a spectacular show that highlighted child trafficking and slave labour; a performance that saw them travel off on the trip of a lifetime to Japan.

The reciprocal arrangement meant that last year, pupils from a school in Wales in the UK, who came first in their region’s 2007 Rock Challenge, were invited to stage their winning entry in Dubai alongside their peers.

This year, 12 schools from across the region will be vying for the coveted top spot, although when Aysel’s production is brought into the equation, the total number of schools represented will be around 25.

The Dubai Rock Challenge 2009 commences on May 1st for two days at GEMS World Academy, Al Barsha (just behind Mall of the Emirates). Anyone wishing to purchase tickets can contact Aysel Dumal on: 050 873 3900, or e-mail her at:

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