So You Think You Can Dabkeh: Women and Dabkeh: Panel and Party

Thu, October 11, 2012 6:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Start the fall off with a stomp! Woman and Dabkeh is part of So You Think You Can Dabkeh, a festival celebrating and exploring the line dances of the Levant.

This dabkeh party is preceded by a discussion led by Riham Barghouti andfeatures women dabkeh experts addressing issues of gender in social and concert performance. Come ready to dance their signature steps and styles, ranging from social Lebanese dabkeh, Palestinian troupe combinations,
and new improvised steps like the “jump rope” and “hip hop”. Participants include Denise Abou-Chrouch of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Sheren and Hannan Attal of Yallah Youth, Danyah Jaber of Hunter's SJP, and Rema Bader, Bouchra Tabit and Dalia Zeinab of Nijmat Falasteen.

Tickets: $5 at the door / FREE for Alwan members

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About Participating Artists:
Denise Abou-Chrouch was born in Hadath, Lebanon, and relocated to the US with her family in 1990 due to the Lebanese Civil War. After settling in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, they became regular parishioners of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral of Brooklyn Heights where Denise began practicing and performing dabkeh formally for the annual Lebanese Independence Day celebration and other events. As a young girl, Denise had always been fascinated by stage dabkeh known as “folkloric” dabkeh, and learned steps by watching performances, videos, Lebanese satellite TV, and later picking up new steps from online sources such as YouTube. This year, Denise led the troupe in a performance at the annual Cathedral festival.For Denise, performing dabkeh is an expression of love for her homeland and pride in her Lebanese identity.
Sheren Attal is Brooklyn-born, of Palestinian descent. She grew up practicing dabkeh at social events in Brooklyn and formalized her knowledge during visits to Palestine and while living in Ramallah as a teenager. In 2001, Sheren founded the youth dabkeh troupe, Salaam Debkah, at Bay Ridge’s Arab American Association of NY. Dabkeh remains a core component of Sheren’s emerging organization, Yallah Youth of Arts. The troupe performs social line dabkeh and narrative choreographies (known as folklore) relating to Arab and Arab American social and cultural issues. They perform at events in the metro area such as Arab American Heritage week celebrations, were featured at the 2008 Al Nakbah events. Dabkeh represents Arab pride and heritage for Sheren, and she favors the elegance and timing of stage style dabkeh performances to the high energy, improvised, and sometimes chaotic social line dances. Sheren has advanced degrees in Non-Profit Management and Counseling.
Rema Bader, Bouchra Tabit and Dalia Bader are members of Nijmat Falasteen, an all-girls dabkeh troupe based in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where they hold weekly practices at Arab American Association of New York. Begun in 2008 by Youth Outreach Coordinator, Sayaf Rami, the troupe performs at community events such as Arab Mothers’ Day, Arab American Heritage Week festivals, and more recently at showcases such as “Arabs Gone Wild” and “Arab Americans Got Talent”. Led by Rema Bader, the team mixes local and national styles of dabkeh, such as Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian, and tosses in their own combinations such as “The Hip Hop” and “The Michael Jackson” that reflect their Brooklyn background. Nijmat’s dabkeh is strong and flashy, performed with an athleticism usually reserved for men, but maintains a feminine styling without becoming subdued.
Riham Barghouti has been performing and teaching dabkeh from a very young age. Growing up in Brooklyn, she was active in the Arab Club, a community center providing social, cultural and political awareness activities for young Palestinians. She was a member of Watan Dance Troupe and founded Al Jaleel, a youth troupe. Barghouti lived in the occupied Palestinian territories from 1995 to 2005, and was a member of El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe, the leading dabkeh group in Palestine. For Barghouti, participation in traditional folklore is empowering for Palestinian women confronting everyday racism or Israeli military occupation; it is a significant form of cultural preservation and resistance, enabling them to challenge social, cultural and political barriers beyond, as well as within, their own society. Barghouti holds a BA in Sociology and Women's Studies, an MA in Gender, Law and Development and a MA in Education. She is a founding member of Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel.
Danyah Jaber was raised in Brooklyn, NY to Palestinian parents from Lifta, a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. She first learned dabkeh from her father at who taught her it was more than a celebratory dance, but had great significance to Palestinian culture and identity. Although Danyah first joined dabkeh lines at family weddings, she began to understand dabkeh as political; a way to tell the story of Palestinian history of the land, the people, and everyday life. Danya is a student at Hunter College and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.


Alwan for the Arts presents So You Think You Can Dabkeh, a festival celebrating and exploring the line dances of the Levant region of the Middle East through participatory and performative events from September 8 - October 13, 2012. The festival highlights dabkeh’s societal and cultural context, musical complexity and variations, and multiple significations to practitioners in the Levant and here in New York City, where dabkeh is one of the most publicly performed and beloved dance by Arab Americans.

Dabkeh is a music and danced social tradition. As a dance it is performed socially at celebrations, in choreographed floor patterns by troupes, and even in street protests. Dabkeh is rooted in village folk traditions and gatherings: performed in lines and circles, with rhythmic stomping, syncopated foot patterns. The music may involve a cappella vocals, (mawwal), wind instrument (mijwiz, shababe or nay) and a large drum, (tabl beledi).



So You Think You Can Dabkeh is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

Last updated: 2012-10-08 14:58:37

Riham Barghouti performs with El Funoun in Adiyat. Photo courtesy of El Funoun
Riham Barghouti performs with El Funoun in Adiyat. Photo courtesy of El Funoun
Designed by Kirsti Itameri
Designed by Kirsti Itameri

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