Badke – Canadian Premiere (World Stage)

It’s rowdy, cheerful and explosively danced – which, as the dancers drive themselves onwards, acquires its own political edge – The Independent


Badke – Pre-show Tea

Had the opportunity to attend a pre-show event with a scholar-in-residence for a discussion about the performance which was quite enlightening.



The title Badke is a deliberate reversal of “dabke”, the name of a Palestinian folk dance. The performance assembles a group of Palestinian dancers – diasporic artists, many of whom have trained outside of Palestine.

A number of variants of dabke exist, but broadly speaking there are two.


Dabke as a popular social dance at weddings and other celebrations, and the “academic” dabke that requires training, which travels the world as a representative of Palestinian national ambitions.


The latter is a stylized, cleaned-up version of the former, and is often injected with tales of Palestinian suffering and symbols of expulsion and displacement.

Badke represents a contemporary version of the first variant: an eruption of joy, an extremely vital, physical expression that exudes solidarity, and an affirmation of belonging somewhere.

In the contemporary dance field, with its emphasis on individuality and reflection, it is sometimes difficult to find this sort of collective physicality.


At the heart of the dabke there is something uniquely social and collective that the Palestinian dancers can proudly show the rest of the world.


But badke is not a search for a long-lost authenticity.  Its creators have also incorporated popular art and dance forms, such as capoeira, circus and hip hop, transforming the dabke into Badke.

The dance evokes a vital form of collective belonging and identity, while simultaneously expressing the desire to be part of the wider world.

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How much contemporary information can the dabke bear?  Can you alter or update an almost canonized folk dance?  How flexible is the tradition?  These are the key questions Badke asks, doing so with relentless energy, joy and perseverance.

With this simple, yet elegant structure, Badke expresses the universal desire to belong, and uses the language of dance in an urgent negotiation between the traditional and the contemporary, the local and global.

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Badke is a co-production between the prolific and groundbreaking KVS (the Brussels City Theatre), les ballets C de la B and the A.M. Qattan Foundation, which administers the Palestinian Performing Arts Network.

As stated, Badke is an artistic collaboration between KVS, les ballets C de la B and the A.M. Qattan Foundation


KVS is the Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (Royal Flemish Theatre) in Brussels, know for building bridges between different communities in the divided Belgian capital.  It is internationally recognised for its artistic exchanges with the Congo and Palestine.

Les ballets C de la B is an artistic platform based in Ghent with Alain Platel as its central figure, choreographer and director.  The companies acclaimed Out of Context – for Pina was part of World Stage in 2010.

The A.M. Qattan Foundation, with branches in Ramallah and Gaza, is a private foundation that invests in culture and education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Since 2007, these organisations have been linking up for a series of multidisciplinary, long-term workshops with young Palestinian performers, dubbed the Performing Arts Summer School (PASS).


This has already meant that a number of young Palestinians have received professional training.

With five Belgian and five Palestinian performers, Badke is the third production of this collaboration.


It premiered at the KVS in March 2012 and toured the West Bank and Arab theatres in Israel.

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