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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Café Palestine


Genre: Dance and Movement Theatre, Live Music, Spoken Word

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard


Low Down

Through dance, words and song a talented young group of Palestinians raise awareness of an issue that shows no signs of going away.


Alrowwad was established in the Aida refugee camp-Bethlehem in 1998. Initiator of “Beautiful Resistance,” it’s an independent community-based not-for-profit organization which strives to empower children and women by targeting behaviour, knowledge, concepts and practices through creative means.

Supported by the Amos Trust, a group of artists is appearing this week at the Pleasance (as part of a month-long, UK wide tour) to celebrate the Palestinian culture through music, song and dance. The programme varies each day, but the lunch-time show I caught featured a series of traditional dances, mixed with a series of short films shot in Palestine, featuring the challenges of creating what we in the west would understand to be a “normal” life, a short talk on the work of Alrowwad and appearances from guest artists, in this case a singer.

The troupe of five men and eight women presented a series of dances with some set to traditional songs, allowing three women to impress with some strident, pleading harmonies and strong voices. We were each given a sheet of paper describing the dance themes, but you hardly needed to refer to it given the ability of the dancers to depict the various scenarios around which the dances were set. Each dance was graceful yet athletic, free-flowing and, at times, almost balletic. And full use of the generous Pleasance stage allowed the dancers to give us a comprehensive demonstration of their considerable abilities.

Dances included a depiction of rural Palestinian life through peaceful farming, cooperation and their innate sense of community, Palestine as it was under the Israeli occupation in 1948, how the occupation continues to separate Palestinian community (particularly through the eight metre wall now built along the Gaza Strip and the West bank) and how the Palestinians are trying to maintain their culture through the medium of song and dance and raise awareness of their plight through missions such as this one to the Edinburgh Fringe.

This was an extremely dignified, almost humbling piece of theatre that communicated objectively an issue where a solution is unlikely to emerge for some considerable time. “Beautiful resistance” is their over-arching message – Alrowwad believe passionately in the ability of the performing arts to unite cultures and bring people together. On the strength of this performance, they’ve achieved that. They deserve your support.