Dance The Palestinian Dabke And Bid Farewell To Artist Nayna - For Now…
What do you think of when you hear ‘Palestine’?
Or something else?
Well, last weekend the Afrocats and kittens on our Youth of the World
programme had the chance to forget about the negativity in the news and
embrace the rich culture and traditions of the dabke (دبكة) with Manchester-
based Palestinian dance instructor Fares Farraj.
A lively Levantine tradition with its roots in agriculture, fertility, and
community, the dabke always starts with the left foot, gradually increasing in
speed along with the music – it’s super fun, and great for getting your toes in a
After warmups testing everyone’s instinctive reflexes along with call-and-
response activities, the group put their best foot forward in learning the jumps
and steps with Fares, and by the end coming together in an incredible dabke
‘There are a few elements at play,’ explains Fares about the dabke’s role for
Palestinians in the face of Israeli occupation.
‘It’s important to have a good time, but it’s also a form of cultural resistance
with what’s going on at home. Resistance is a duty, and the dabke is how we
[Palestinians] fight for survival against censorship, and establish cultural
understanding and respect.
‘As a dancer and a Palestinian, the dabke is how we preserve and pass on our
The Afrokittens did so well dancing the dabke that Fares adds: ‘if they were
going to an Arab wedding, they would have no problems keeping up!’
Even founder Magdalen joined in with the dancing!
After a short break, musician Luke Benjamin got everyone back together doing
what he does best - guiding young people through the melodies of popular
songs with his incredible keyboard skills for a future performance.
Everyone rehearsed the melody to Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’ and were introduced to an
old funk favourite by James Brown: ‘I Got You (I Feel Good).’
And look who popped by to get involved – only Eunice from our partner WAST!
Lastly, our regular arts and crafts practitioner Nayna came for one last session
(for now), creating a flying fish of Barbados – her soon new-home-to-be.
The flying fish is a Bajan national dish, and even features on the Barbadian
Our young people also explored other aspects about Barbados such as its flag,
its fauna, and flora – and of course how sunny the weather always is over
Plus, did you know Afrocats founder Magdalen is originally from Barbados?
Find out how she came to establish a safe and friendly space for refugees and
asylum seekers in Manchester by checking out her story.
Thank you Nayna for unleashing your amazing artistic talents for the Afrocats
and kittens - we all hope to see you back for a session in Manchester soon.