Debkeh dancing at the Middle Eastern Cultural Festival
in Syracuse, NY at St. Elias Church

A stomp and kick towards the world stage.....

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How can any dance be used as an international exchange to promote peace?
This consideration easily brings to mind one of the most amazing musical moments in film history, that scene from “Fiddler on the Roof” when a Jewish dancer bumps into a Russian soldier, the mood becomes  tense, but instead of it turning into a fight the soldier responds by holding out his hand.  What follows is a master blend of two cultures becoming one vibrant, unforgettable dance performance!  Here we see how dance has the potential to actually de-escalate a tense moment, then bring together two different sides as it turns them into one collaboration for the shared musical celebration of life.  (See following youtube link, above-mentioned moment occurring 2:55 into the video.)

St. Elias Debkeh Dancers practice for
their performance at American
high school in Syracuse, NY
(see link below for actual performance)
 Dance has the power to greet, educate, and entertain unfamiliar audiences by connecting both performer and observer on the united human plain of love for performance.  For the audience of the West, debkeh has the ability of introducing them to a culture they had not known or understood before, moving that foreign country or region more onto their map of consciousness.   As such, debkeh has the means to enhance a people’s perception of the world around them, their own identity, and their relationships with others.  Perhaps for the very reason that it is such an unanticipated outcome, debkeh can actually change worldviews;  it can be the disarming tool that communicates and transforms the way people think and behave.  Debkeh has the potential to counteract prejudices by creating the awareness that no one culture is superior or inferior to another.  (Following link shows the St. Elias Debkeh Dancers performing for American highschoolers, at CBA High School in Syracuse, NY.)

For the performer, debkeh offers the feel-good unique opportune basis for overcoming all kinds of conflicts, from a personal to a global level.  It can be therapeutic in healing collective trauma, convert negative energy into positive energy and even inspire public demands for justice.  Dance provides a space where people in conflict can express, recover, and reconcile themselves.  It increases self-confidence, provides an education in leadership, public speaking and creative problem solving.  (Following link shows young Palestinians at children's facility in Bethlehem using debkeh as they cope with living life under occupation)
Debkeh is cooperation.  It is many that become one in the synchronization of the same step. 
Debkeh is perseverance.  Arabic songs can be long and the performance can outlast a dancer’s comfortable energy capacity. 
Debkeh is teamwork, attending multiple practices and overcoming disagreements to ensure the most perfect performance as possible. 
Debkeh is one first step—along with its stomp & kick—for  world peace, where one human hand accepts  another human hand to share together in the mutual  enjoyment of music as the cooperation, perseverance, and teamwork  transcend us into a world beyond disputes.

Note:  St. Elias Debkeh Dancers' next performance will be at the Interfaith Works Leadership Awards on May 15, 2012.  This event recognizes community leaders in the Syracuse Jewish, Arab, and academic communities who have dedicated their lives to further understanding and to overcome political/social divides as it pertains to advancing Middle East peace.
You can catch our dancers at our 2012 Middle Eastern Cultural Festival in Syracuse, which takes place the weekend of July 20 at the site of St. Elias Church!

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