News: April 8, 2005
Calvin Set for Petra Premiere
After months of planning and hard work, Calvin College opened Petra: Lost City of Stone on April 4, 2005. Now the college is set to celebrate that opening at Zaman Ya Petra (Arabic for “Petra Once Upon a Time”) an April 12 premiere event which will unveil Middle Eastern culture for Calvin’s friends and supporters as well as several dignitaries.
"I hope it will be a way for people to mingle and share their thoughts on the exhibit," says Souzan Karadsheh, Calvin’s hospitality events manager.
Zaman Ya Petra is preceded at 3:30 p.m. with a VIP reception in the Sultan’s Tent adjoining the Prince Conference Center (the exhibit’s home for the next four months) and a private viewing of Petra: Lost City of Stone for around 300 exhibit donors and high-profile guests.
Among them will be Prince Firas Raad — son of the lord chamberlain to His Majesty King Abdullah II, king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan — and his wife Princess, Dana Firas Raad. Married archaeologists Dr. Pierre Bikai, director of the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan and Dr. Patricia Bikai, the center’s associate director, will also attend the event. (The Bikais are key figures in the excavation and research of Petra’s Byzantine Christian era.)
"The VIP reception is really a way to thank people who have given towards this huge undertaking," Karadsheh says.
Zaman Ya Petra At Noto's
A 6:30 p.m. punch reception kicks off Zaman Ya Petra at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining. This premiere event (tickets for which cost $75 and include entry to the exhibit) combines a four-course meal, music, dance and narrative into a complete Middle Eastern experience.
"We’re basically welcoming people the entire Middle Eastern culture, not just to the Petra exhibit. The hospitality will be extended from the minute people come in," Karadsheh says.
Entertainment for the evening will explore an entire spectrum of Middle Eastern dance forms. The Al-Arz Lebanese Dance Group will perform original theatrical pieces based on the folkloric dabke dance, notable for its foot stomping, hip swings, pivots and pirouettes. In dance sessions interspersed throughout the evening of festivity, Al-Arz will perform their "Patriotic Suite," a "Dedication to Petra" by the Rahbani Brothers (Middle Eastern playwrights and composers) a traditional "Folkloric Suite," and a "Bedouin Suite."
"They explain what each dance is," Karadsheh says. "I like the 'Bedouin Suite,' because when I went to Jordan, I fell in love with the Bedouin people.”
A narrative interweaving the history of the Nabataeans and the history of Petra: Lost City of Stone coming to Calvin will give shape to the evening’s entertainment. Performed by Bert de Vries, a Calvin professor of history and archaeology, and President Gaylen Byker, the narrative is important, Karadsheh says, for the way it expresses the evening’s theme.
"President Byker and Bert de Vries both have very strong ties in both Jordan and at Calvin College," she says."It will be wonderful to see the Petra story and the Calvin story woven together."