I love watching any type of dance. And I ESPECIALLY love watching children dance. Which is why coming across a kids’ Dabke rehearsal was such a pleasant surprise.
Let me explain where this happened. You know Bethlehem? As in the Bible? Just a few miles from the spot where Jesus (supposedly) was born, lies the Dheisheh refugee camp. Housing some ten thousand Palestinian refugees, it’s also home to a children’s folk dance troupe.
Graffiti art on the streets of Dheisheh
It is not a new camp. The original residents of Dheisheh fled the fighting, or were expelled from their villages, in the wake of the founding of Israel in 1948. Like all refugee camps, this too started out as a tent city, a temporary dwelling place for those with nowhere to go. Six decades later, these kids were born here. Their kids will probably be born here. There are lots of camps like this all around the West Bank.
Back in the 50’s it still looked like a temporary camp
Want to see for yourself? You can. From Bethlehem, take a taxi to the Ibdaa Cultural Center at the entrance of the Dheisheh camp. There is a nice, cheap guesthouse too, so you can stay the night. I warmly recommend it.
Here’s a clip from the rehearsal: