Ahead of her talk at Modmag, we chat to Jana Al Obeidyine, the Beirut-based editor-in-chief of a Dance Mag, about her typical working week. One of this year’s most exciting launches, a Dance Mag made an immediate impression for its unique physical format and intelligent editorial concept.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
On Mondays, I am usually on the road driving from one meeting to another trying to cope with Beirut’s traffic.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
My desk is bit chaotic; beside my laptop, I can see my agenda, notebook, phone, Mastercard, glasses, eye drops, a mockup plan of issue two of a Dance Mag, The Outpost – Home issue, and two DVDs Loving Vincent and A Coffee in Berlin (still unwatched).
A butterfly entered the room this morning cheering me up.
Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine I remember is the comic Little Lulu (the Arabic version), it was one of my favorite childhood companions.
Later, I became really fond of Cahiers Du Cinema and I still think of it as one of the most impactful magazines I know. The magazine was the drive behind the French New Wave, which was an influential movement in the history of cinema.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I am currently having a renewed interest in The Outpost. The editorial note of the Body issue is what led me to contact its founder Ibrahim Nehme at the beginning of my project. But after a year of working on a Dance Mag, I am now seeing The Outpost in a new light.
Can you describe your magazine in three words?
I like how people describe it: eclectic, rich, and gratifying.
How did the idea for a Dance Mag emerge?
I wanted to make a magazine about dance because I believed that dance is an important aspect of our lives that we often underestimate and undervalue. So the starting point of the project was to highlight the role dance play in politics, identity formation, society, health, history, cinema, architecture etc. Ibrahim’s approach was more holistic, in the sense that he saw dance in everything. I guess the result was a combination of both visions.
How have you found the process of making a magazine?
The making of the first issue or the magazine was a long process, so it naturally had its ups and downs. Overall, I would say it’s a thrilling process but really stressful at times.
Have you been surprised by the reaction to your magazine?
Given that the project is unconventional, it was hard to predict how readers will respond to the magazine. So, we are excited to see that it is being very well received. We are getting positive comments and thank you messages. The Stack Awards shortlisting, in two categories, was also a delight. All this gives us more motivation to keep moving forward.
What can we expect from the second issue?
A new escapade! Our approach is still the same; the theme is the thread that leads us to new places, people and experiences. I don’t want to reveal the theme of the next issue just yet, but it’s an interesting transition from the Transcendence issue to more grounded themes.
What are you looking forward to sharing with the audience at ModMag?
I will talk about the making of a Dance Mag, what it stands for, and what it aims to achieve.
Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak alongside you at Modmag on 1 November?
It’s an amazing line-up! I am truly looking forward to hearing every single talk.
What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
I was travelling almost all summer, so this week I scheduled meetings with some of our Indiegogo friends and supporters who are based in Beirut.
What will you be doing after this chat?
I will be heading to the bank.
Jana Al Obeidyine will be speaking at this year’s ModMag London conference on Thursday 1 November.
Book your ticket now.