El-Funoun Lives the Dance
02 Mar 2010
An intrepid troupe of singers, musicians and Dabke dancers who, inspired by their heritage, have worked to revive the folk music of Palestine.
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An intrepid troupe of singers, musicians and Dabke dancers who, inspired by their heritage, have worked to revive the folk music of Palestine
The El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe was founded 30 years ago by a handful of teenagers from Ramallah and El-Bireh. No one could have known during those humble beginnings that the 15 to 20 year old Dabke performers, committed to the heritage of their country, were the start of something so big. Nor could they have known that they would set a benchmark for the development and preservation of Palestinian dance culture, both behind and beyond the walled territories.
Thirty years on, they have become the country’s leading dance group, not only because of the exquisite quality of their choreography, or their in-depth research into local history but for their role as an ‘incubator’ for young Palestinian talents.
Dabke, in Arabic, literally means ‘to stamp the feet’. Technically a line dance, it is widely performed at weddings and celebrations. The moves originate in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the houses were built from stone and the roofs were made out of tree branches secured with mud. When the seasons changed, the mud cracked and started to leak, so it would need to be fixed. The house owner would call his neighbours for help, who would gather on the roof, form a line and start stamping their feet to re-seal the mud.
Palestinian exchange with the outside world has become limited due to travel restrictions. Consequently little is known about the country’s dance culture. Many do not realise that Dabke even exists. The junior company, Bara’em, for 8 to 16 year olds, can pass through checkpoints more easily and even tour outside the country. This helps to raise their profile and drip feeds ready-trained young dancers into the main company.
Mostly volunteer-based, its members are diverse, from poets to troubadours, painters to engineers, peace campaigners to dance enthusiasts, young and old alike. Through the art of performance, they express their Palestinian identity, as well as their aspirations for freedom, equality, dignity and humanity, while strengthening the role of women and advocating dance as therapy.
El-Funoun is a real inspiration as much as it is a dance troupe: dancing life and living the dance.
Contact: El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe,
PO Box 4145, El-Bireh, Palestine
Photo: ¬© El-Funoun Dance Troupe
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