Lebanese dance group Mayyas 'hypnotise' America's Got Talent judges
A Lebanese dance group rocked America's Got Talent with a "hypnotising" performance that won them the golden buzzer on Thursday evening.
Mayyas, an all-women's dance crew set up by choreographer Nadim Cherfan, travelled all the way to the US to perform in the talent show in a bid for mass exposure.
"Lebanon is not considered a place where you can build a career out of dancing, so it's really hard, and harder 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 women dancers trying to kickstart their careers in the Middle East.
"Lebanon is a very beautiful country. But we live a daily struggle," one dancer said. "Unfortunately, being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported, yet."
They proceeded to wow the judges with a synchronistic 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 any of her co-judges had a chance to officially vote on the group moving on. "I would be so honoured to empower you even more in this journey because you deserve it. And I want to be part of this!"
She pressed the golden buzzer, which automatically advances contestants to the next stage of the competition.
Judge Howie Mandel said the group lived up to their promise of delivering a unique performance and that they left the judges "hypnotised".
"I want to thank you for giving us a little glimpse of your culture, which is so beautiful," Heidi Klum shared. "It was just stunning, and I love all of you. I really do."
Stunned veteran judge Simon Cowell said: "This really, really will make a difference, in so many positive ways."
"And then it was arguably the best dance act we're likely to have ever seen," he added. "And we are honoured to have you here."
The group'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 toward collective goals. Working together can bring out the best in one another. Congratulations to the Lebanese Group 'Mayyas' for the golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent", tweeted Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Singer Nancy Ajram said Mayyas show hope that Lebanon can return to better times: "This is the real #Lebanon we always aim for and want to get back. Thank you #Mayyas for not only empowering Arab women but for making every single Lebanese around the globe #Proud", she tweeted.