This year’s program begins with the group Mohamed Abozekry and Karkade, the most musically traditional of the three from Egypt. They will perform Saturday at Bossa Bistro and Sunday at the Kennedy Center. El Hawary and vocalist Dina El Wedidi will appear the following week.
The Ukrainian acts — the musical group Kurbasy and the cabaret-theater troupe Teatr-Pralnia with CCA Dakh — will visit next month.
Center Stage is a collaboration between the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which picks the countries, and the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), which selects the performers. It sends participants to big cities and small towns, to marble-clad arts centers and colleges, churches and libraries.
“This is not one gig a night for 30 days. They’re in communities for three or four days,” says NEFA executive director Cathy Edwards. “There are meals in people’s homes and panel discussions and workshops. This isn’t for the artist who doesn’t have a genuine interest in connecting.”