L started doing Dabke quite a few years ago in Boston. She and her friends in Boston formed a Dabke troupe called Zeitoun and they did several performances. Zeitoun has not performed together for a while, but one former Zeitoun member, Zaki, has done an awesome job teaching this traditional Palestinian (and Arab) dance to some new students at Harvard. Below is a video of his amateur troupe performing at Harvard last weekend. It is really nice to see Palestinian culture being celebrated and participated in by people in Boston.
Dabke is a beautiful dance! It is a folk line dance, performed by either just men, just women, both together. Its is als a communal dance, done at wedding, celebrations, and other occasions. It was the most popular dance at my wedding! It is a performance dance, as well as a participatory dance. While it is performed all over the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia), I have most experience watching the Palestinian version of this dance. Some of the most famous internationally famous dabke troupes today include Ibdaa, Sareyyet Ramallah, and El-Funoun (see a short video below – I have seen them perform and they rock), all based in Palestine.
Dabke music is so awesome, so rhythmic, so powerful – and then the stomping of the feet in rythm. I love it! It just so happens that Zaki also chose one of my favorite Dabke music to perform to…
The leader plays an important role in Dabke (which Zaki did for his troupe). According to a post in Wikipedia:
The Dabke leader is supposed to be like a tree, with arms in the air, a proud and upright trunk, and feet that stomp the ground in rhythm, emphasizing their connection to their land. The meaning of “dabke” in Arabic is “stomping of the feet,” and stomping, as well as jumping and kicking, are moves that characterize the dabke in a unique manner. The leader, called raas (meaning “head”) or “lawwih” (meaning “waver”), is allowed to improvise on the type of dabke being danced, and he or she would also be twirling a handkerchief or string of beads known as a masbha (similar to a rosary), while the rest of the dancers keep the rhythm. The dancers also use vocalizations to show energy and to punctuate the rhythm. Many learn dabke as children, while others perform it as part of professional dance troupes.
El Funoun Palestinian Dabke Troupe