60th anniversary of Nakbah commemorated with folk dance-theatre performance [Archives:2008/1160/Culture]

May 2 2008

By: Fahad Faruqui
For The Yemen Times
[email protected]

Yemen and Palestine have a special relationship; Palestinians make up one of the largest expatriate communities in Yemen, and President Ali Abdullah Saleh's initiative to reconcile rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas is more proof of the bond. The United Kingdom, which also has a sizeable Palestinian population, commemorated their plight with a performance combining traditional dabke folk dancing of the Levant region with modern theatrical production.

A new adaptation of renowned Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani's story, “Ila Haifa” (Returning to Haifa), showed British audiences a personal account of the Nakbah, meaning “the catastrophe,” in 1948 when 418 Arab villages in Palestine were reduced to dirt and some 800,000 people were displaced.

Performed by the British dabke dance troupe, Al-Zaytouna, the show ran from May 8 to 10 at London's Greenwood Theater to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nakbah.

The story recounts the tragic tale of a couple torn from their infant daughter, left behind in Haifa during the Nakbah, using a combination of acting, song and dabke, which is a traditional form of Arab folk dancing. Dabke, which means “stomping [of the feet]