Under the title of “Dabke Fever,” the Jabalna Association is bringing back the National Dabke Festival to Maaser el Chouf on 2 September.
For the past three years, the association has taken dabke as its theme for its yearly festival, and this September will be no different.
“We want to offer these small-scale troupes a platform,” says Yola Noujaim, president of the Jabalna Association. “We also insist on hosting this event in September because we want to support local artisans and townspeople who sell their mouneh, which is mostly prepared in late summertime.”
Year after year, the National Dabke Day continues to grow, attracting a growing number of people from Lebanon and beyond.
Dabke is part of our identity, and unfortunately it has been lost in the rural areas of the country. Our mission is to teach dabke to these people who perhaps would have no other way to learn it. We understand that old traditions, mainly the clothing, will probably never come back, so we don’t force them. This is why you will see troupes performing on stage in jeans. We aim to preserve our heritage while keeping up with the times.
The number of attendees is not the only thing to grow, however. The festival’s program has become richer over the years. With numerous competitions, a panel of judges (including renowned dancers such as Mazen Kiwan), and a kids’ area, there’s something for everyone. The surrounding area is also abundant in nature so visitors can enjoy a walk or a hike.
This year’s competition is focused on bringing back another traditional aspect of dabke: spontaneity. Participants will have to improvise their dances according to the music played.
In the old days, dabke wasn’t choreographed; it was as spontaneous as can be. On happy occasions, such as weddings, anyone would go up and start playing music and people would grab hands and do the dabke the way that best fits the music. This is the true spirit of dabke.
To learn more about the event, visit the Facebook page and check out this video: