Dance is a huge part of Palestinian cultural identity and the arts in Palestine. The traditional dance ‘dabke’, a joyful Levantine folk dance originating in the Middle East, symbolises the hope and struggle of the Palestine and the Palestinian people and is performed in all manner of social and performative situations from weddings to a theatre space.
As well as dabke, there are more contemporary or fusion dance styles being performed around the world. We’ve put together a list of artists to check out below:
Hawiyya Dance Company
Hawiyya Dance Company was founded in 2017 as an all-women’s collective who explore identity, culture and resistance through dance. The group uses folk dance ‘Dabke’ and contemporary dance to create narrative works that explore themes such as resistance, oppression, displacement, social justice, individual and cultural identity. The culturally diverse dancers unite in their commitment to anti-racism and anti-imperialism in all they do.
Alrowwad Centre for Arts and Culture
Alrowwad Centre for Arts and Culture was established in Aida refugee camp-Bethlehem in 1998 and registered as a not-for-profit organisation in August of 2003. Alrowwad, initiator of “Beautiful Resistance,” is an independent, dynamic, community-based not-for-profit organization which strives to empower children and women by targeting behavior, knowledge, concepts and practices through creative and non-violent means.
Samaa Wakeem is a freelance dancer choreographer and actress. She is also a cultural manager at Khashabi Theatre and Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre. Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre‘s mission is to create invigorating performance and education programs that expand access to – and promote understanding through – the arts.
Aseel Qupty is a Palestinian contemporary dancer and choreographer. She started dancing in Nazareth and received her Major in Contemporary Dance in 2019 from DANCEWORKS berlin. After graduating she started working as a freelancer with independent choreographers in theatre productions. In 2019, she started choreographing her own work and collaborating with other artists in the field. She is one of the co-founders of Platform 14. As a dancer and choreographer she creates her own expression interpretation of movement from personal views, working with connection to her feminine quality and strong physicality, a combination of juiciness and strength.
Farah Saleh is a Palestinian dancer and choreographer currently based in Scotland, and in 2017 was appointed as Associate Artist at Dance Base, Edinburgh. She has worked in various countries, as well as on projects with Sareyyet Ramallah Dance Company since 2010.
Ahmed Alghariz is co-founder of Camps Breakerz Crew. Living in Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp, Ahmend’s brother Moh ‘Funk’ Ghraiz started Camps Breakerz Crew in 2004 alongside their other sibling Abdullah ‘Jay’ Alghraiz. Camps Breakerz Crew challenges the wrong impressions of the people of Palestine, since that is mostly what the media focuses on. We don’t teach dancing only, but also life and how to live freely in an open-air prison like Gaza. Imagination through dancing takes our students and ourselves beyond the borders, to reach far away.
- Hadi Nahleh is a choreographer who is founder and director of Studio 8, organiser of IDEA Festival Jordan.
- Natalie Salsa is a Palestinian contemporary dancer, based in Brussels-Belgium.