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Here's What Inspired the Mayyas' $1 Million-Winning AGT Routine
The Lebanese dance crew took home AGT's Season 17 crown.
Dance crew the Mayyas took home the $1 million grand prize and a residency at AGT's Las Vegas show at the Luxor. Since their first Audition—when Sofia Vergara awarded them her Golden Buzzer—the Lebanese group (made up of 36 women) mesmerized fans with their fluid, intricate movements and artful storytelling.
Named for the Arabic word meaning "lioness," the Mayyas were founded by choreographer Nadim Cherfan in 2019. They'd already won Arabs Got Talent and competed in Britain's Got Talent: The Champions before taking on AGT.
"The platform is bigger, and the standard I think is higher," Cherfan told NBC Insider about AGT. "So for us to be able to compete against such talent, it was an honor for us. There are moments in this competition where it began with the Mayyas, the dream of the Mayyas, the dream of Nadim. But after the Golden Buzzer, it wasn't that at all anymore. It was a message of hope for all Arab women, for all Lebanese people around the world."
He continued, "Lebanon is going through a really dark time now, and this is kind of like a fresh breath of air for everybody. So it's not about the title anymore, it's not about us as individuals. This is bigger than us."
Ahead, we spoke with Cherfan about the group's time on the show and his plans for Vegas.
NBC Insider: What is the inspiration for the choreography and the performances throughout the season? Specifically, the beautiful Finale dance we saw?
Nadim Cherfan: For the final performance, actually, the inspiration was from designers and catwalks. Usually the designer ends his catwalk with a bridal look, so I wanted to end the show with a bridal big look.
The Judges and fans say the dance moves and performances are mesmerizing. How do you come up with these ideas?
I was always fascinated by nature and life and fiction. When your reality is hard, when you struggle in your life, you go deep in your art for you to be able to escape from reality. So these visions, they become reality to me. Like, in the beginning when I write the story, I'm in control, and then after that the story takes control. So it's something that absorbs you deep and it takes you in it.
A goal of the Mayyas is to empower women—specifically Arab women—through dance. Are you seeing that impact since you've been on AGT?
In Lebanon, the support was there since day one. The problem is that the Lebanese people, they are not the issue. The issue is the government. They don't support these kind of things. It's not important to them, I think. It's changing a bit, I think, because of the Mayyas and because of what happened on that stage. I really do hope that this kind of art keeps on going and going in the Middle East and in Lebanon. Because there's nothing more beautiful than this.
You said it's changing a bit. What have you noticed?
Every girl in this group now believes that dreams do come true. And if you work hard for them, success is gonna be there waiting for you. And to never, never doubt yourself. To never, never stop doing what you love.To fight for it. To have a voice. To dance.
We briefly saw a large group of Mayyas supporters in the audience during the Live Final. Were those family members?
Actually, the people that came to the stage were people that left Lebanon long ago. They are Lebanese living here in the U.S. Some of them [haven't] visited Lebanon since 20, 30 years [ago], so it was really emotional for us to see them standing outside the theater waiting for us—with our flag.
And y'all are headed to Vegas. How do you feel about that?
How can I explain it? I'm feeling ready for it. I hope Vegas is ready for us. Because now there is no stress of competing. It's only creation.
Do you already have ideas in mind for Vegas?
My cup is full. It's dripping with ideas.