After many failed attempts to dance together, both Israeli & Palestinian dance troupes will seek to make a change through ballet in Ireland.
Only a few dozen meters separate two dance troupes, a Palestinian one from the West Bank town of Beit Jala and the other from the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, who have attempted to meet with each other on a number of occasions, but have been unsuccessful as yet.
After being in touch via Facebook and a number of failed attempts to meet in person in Tel Aviv, the troupes will finally be able to dance together when they travel to Ireland for a dance festival, according to Israeli daily Ha’aretz.
When the organizers of a dance festival in the Irish town of Cork heard about the two troupes trying to meet, they reportedly offered the Palestinians and Israelis free tickets to attend the event in February.
The founder of the Swing Dance Palestine group is Birte Brodkorb, a German law student living in Tel Aviv who takes public transportation to Beit Jala in the West Bank in order to teach dance.
The Beit Jala group and the Tel Aviv swing dance group had arranged to meet four times, but at the last minute, the Palestinian dancers were denied permits to enter Israel, according to Ha’aretz.
Palestinian dancer seeks change through ballet
Another example of Palestinians showing off their dance skills is that of Ramallah dancer Shireen Ziyadeh wants to use pirouettes and plies to change the place where she grew up, training aspiring ballerinas to show that “something beautiful comes from Palestine”.
In tights and a white tunic, her hair scraped back in a flawless bun, the 24-year-old Palestinian repeats instructions to a group of tiny dancers in pink tutus and slippers at her ballet school in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The idea of teaching ballet to little girls came to the young management studies graduate four years ago.
“I wanted to bring something new and offer them other perspectives on the future,” she told AFP.
But — as is often the case in the West Bank — the dance classes also have a political dimension.
“Ballet, which is a major art form, is a good way to revolutionize traditional Palestinian culture,” she said. “I’m not only teaching them to dance but also how to integrate with others.”
Ziyadeh’s is not the first ballet school in Ramallah — she herself learned to dance here in her childhood — but she is one of just a handful of teachers across the Palestinian territories.
“Teaching ballet and its philosophy (here) is also a way of showing the world that something beautiful comes from Palestine,” she said.
“Ballet has its own universe, different from all other forms of dance. You have to express yourself with all the muscles in your body to show the full purity of this dance form,” she said, as her girls danced to a melody from the soundtrack of the 2001 French film “Amelie.”
Opened in May 2011, the Ramallah Ballet Center says on its website that it offers “the ability to dance, act and think in more positive ways.”
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