Dabke is an Israeli dance according to The New York Times

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[YouTube]
NYC Dabke Dancers respond to ZviDance “Israeli Dabke”

The below entry was mentioned as part of the Dance Listings for Aug. 2-8 in the New York Times:

ZviDance (Saturday) Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Israeli-born, New York-based choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created “Dabke,” named for the traditional, celebratory line dance performed at Muslim weddings in the Middle East. (The title means “stomping the ground” in Arabic.) A free class in Lebanese dabke and its Israeli offshoot, debka, precedes this Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance, which is a split bill with El Gusto, the recently reunited Algerian band of Muslim and Jewish musicians. At 7 p.m., with the dance class starting at 6 p.m., Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, (212) 721-6500, lcoutofdoors.org; free. (Burke)

Even though the article doesn’t say that Israelis came up with Dabke, Philip Weiss who wrote the below article does make a point that the New York Times has given a lot of importance to this Israeli dabke, which honestly doesn’t look anything like our traditional Dabke.

I’ve read some of the comments on Weiss’s article and while it’s true that it is a matter of cultural appropriation and not imitation, I don’t believe we can forbid or lament artists, whether Jewish or not, from reproducing the Dabke dance in their own way. On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt the New York times to highlight Arab dances such as the Dabke, speak of its origins and tell people about groups like the Lebanese Caracalla for instance.

The English invented curry and paisley, right?

The dabke (or debka) is an Arab dance. I’ve seen Arabs dancing it in several countries. Zvi Gotheiner is an Israeli-born choreographer in New York. He has a dance called the “Dabke,” and the New York Times has given his dabke a lot of ink over the last year or so.

June 3, 2012 in the Times:

The dabke is a line dance of the Levant. At weddings in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, people link up arm to shoulder or hand in hand and stomp out rhythms and patterns. Israelis, so often at odds with their neighbors, also have a version. Dances are easier to share than territory.

The Times again, June 19, 2013:

The dabke is a line dance, traditionally for men only, often performed at weddings and celebrations in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories. But it is just Mr. Gotheiner’s starting point. Music makes people dance communally, and the sense of community in “Dabke” is so strong that at times we feel that we are on a kibbutz.

The Times August 1, 2013, in dance listings:

ZviDance (Saturday) Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Israeli-born, New York-based choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created “Dabke,” named for the traditional, celebratory line dance performed at Muslim weddings in the Middle East. (The title means “stomping the ground” in Arabic.) A free class in Lebanese dabke and its Israeli offshoot, debka, precedes this Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance, which is a split bill with El Gusto, the recently reunited Algerian band of Muslim and Jewish musicians.

Hasbara: First we made the desert bloom. Then we invented hummus. Then we came up with an amazing line dance. Thanks to Helen Schiff.


That’s one weird Dabke


The real authentic Dabke – by Karakalla

Thanks P!

5 thoughts on “Dabke is an Israeli dance according to The New York Times

  1. bp

    I don’t know where the outrage is coming from, honestly. The title of this blog post is factually incorrect, since nowhere does the NYT claim that this is an Israeli dance. It clearly says that this guy has adapted an Arab dance. The only problem with the NYT article is that it incorrectly says dabke is only a Muslim dance, when it is danced by Levantine Arabs of all sects.

    Reply
  2. A Voice from NY

    I like the NYC Debke Dancer’s video response. Only wish the background music wasn’t so loud ’cause it drowns out the message of the performers. One of the comments from the dancers couldn’t be truer . . . “Our cultural heritage is not your natural resource” . . . she’s right . . . from coming up with their own version of Debke, to coming up with Isreali forms of couscous, hummus, tabouli, falafel, etc. What’s next?

    Reply
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  4. Laila

    Dabke is an ARAB dance. It is a Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Iraqi and Gulf Arab dance, there are variations of it in the Arab world. “Israelis” are not Arabs. They do not recognize them selves as Arabs nor do they recognize them selves as Middle Easterners. They conduct all of their business and play all of their sports with European teams. Therefore there is no such thing as “Israeli” dabke. And “Israel” does not exist. It is an illegal occupation by a group of European Jews of the land of Palestine. So we can keep pretending “Israel” exists but we all know there is no such thing as Israel or Israeli culture. Hilarious

    Reply

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