A Lebanese dance group rocked America’s Got Talent with a “mesmerizing” performance that earned them the gold buzzer on Thursday night.
Mayyas, an all-female dance crew created by choreographer Nadim Cherfan, traveled to the United States to take part in the talent show in a bid to gain exposure.
“Lebanon is not considered a place where you can have a career in dance, so it’s really difficult, and even more difficult for women,” Cherfan said before the audition.
On stage, the dancers spoke of their love for Lebanon but said it was to find support as Arab dancers trying to launch their careers in the Middle East.
“Lebanon is a very beautiful country. But we live a daily struggle,” said a dancer. “Unfortunately, being a dancer as an Arab woman is not yet fully supported.”
They then wowed the judges with a synchronous performance using hand movements, belly dancing and perfectly timed choreography.
“It’s time for us to vote, but I want to say something first,” Sofia Vergara began, before one of her co-judges had a chance to officially vote on what to do next. “I would be so honored to empower you even more on this journey because you deserve it. And I want to be a part of it!”
She pressed the golden buzzer, which automatically advances contestants to the next stage of the competition.
Judge Howie Mandel said the band delivered on their promise to deliver a unique performance and left the judges “hypnotized”.
“I want to thank you for giving us a little insight into your culture, which is so beautiful,” Heidi Klum shared. “It was just breathtaking, and I love you all. Really.”
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Stunned veteran judge Simon Cowell said: “It will really, really make a difference, in so many positive ways.”
“And then it was arguably the best dance number we’ve probably ever seen,” he added. “And we are honored to have you here.”
The band’s performance went viral and was praised by top Lebanese politicians and celebrities.
“One of the challenges facing any form of work is how to put aside rivalries and work as an effective team towards collective goals. Working together can bring out the best in each other. Congratulations to the Lebanese group ‘Mayyas ‘ for the gold buzzer on America’s Got Talent,” Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati tweeted.
Singer Nancy Ajram said Mayyas shows hope that Lebanon can return to better times: “This is the real #Lebanon that we always aim for and want back. Thank you #Mayyas not only empowering women Arabs, but also to make every Lebanese in the world #Proud,” she tweeted.