A group of youth use a traditional dance to spread a message of resistance

Sara Wasouf / February 20, 2020

For centuries, dance has been used as a way of expression and as a symbol of joy. One Vancouver group is using a traditional dance to do just that.

Brothers Haytham and Zaid Al Hamaydeh started Canadabkeh in 2019. The group practices Dabkeh, a folk dance that originated in the Levant. The dance consists of mainly foot movements and started when home builders would stomp on their roofs in Lebanon. Since then, Dabkeh has been performed all over the Middle East at joyous events like birthdays and weddings.

But for Haytham and his brother, Dabkeh isn’t just a way to express joy, it’s also a way to express political resistance.

“I take Dabkeh as a way of expressing art, and as a way to spread awareness about the Palestinian cause.” – Haytham Al Hamaydeh, Canadabkeh Founder

The Palestinian-Israeli has been going on for decades, but on January 28, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a “peace plan” and called it the “Deal of the Century”. The plan proposes that Israel maintains sovereignty over the west of the Jordan river and have full control over Jewish settlements which are scattered all over Palestinian territories.  A poll done by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) found that 94% of Palestinians opposed the plan. This opposition is heard all the way here in Vancouver, and in this case, through dance.

“People that I’ve met are like, ‘you’re dancing all the time and people are dying’, but art is also a way to express political views in non-violent ways. It’s one of the ways in which I express my relation to the Palestinian cause.” – Haytham Al Hamaydeh, Canadabkeh Founder

The group is now planning a flashmob in the upcoming months, which will be performed at UBC.

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