Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe Leaps to Incredible Heights

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RAMALLAH/JERUSALEM, 26 May 2012 – With spinning bodies, whirling traditional costumes, and powerful leaps the more than 45 high school students that make up Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah wowed the packed audience during their 12 May performance.

As living witnesses to the “hope” for which they are named—al-Raja means hope in the Arabic language—the students performed with a joy and enthusiasm that was irresistible to the crowd.

The evening’s performance also included traditional songs performed by students from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah.

The al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe was founded in 2004 with the partnership of the Grefsen Videregaende Skole in Oslo, Norway, and has performed both locally and internationally in Norway and the United States of America.

Today, more than 45 high school students—Christian and Muslim alike—participate in al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe, practicing six hours each week.

Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe Performs with Flying Colors

JERUSALEM, May 20, 2011 – The al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah soared to new heights with its performance last week.

The more than 45 high school students come together after class to practice Dabke, the traditional dance of the Palestinian people, many hours per week during the school year, and their love for the art shone through their passionate performance.

Their name—al-Raja—means “hope” in the Arabic language, and through their bold movements, traditional embroidered costumes, and lively Arab music they convey both the history of the Palestinian people and their hopes and dreams for freedom and peace in their land. In their dancing students Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah—Christian and Muslim alike—offer a powerful witness that the ELCJHL is proud to support.

The al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe was founded in 2004 with the partnership of the Grefsen Videregaende Skole in Oslo, Norway, and has performed both locally and internationally in Norway and the United States of America.

To learn more about the al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, visit their page right here on elcjhl.org: al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe

Al Raja Dance Tour through the US

2006 Ramallah Dancers

Al Raja Dance Troupe has made it from Chicago, through Nebraska, California, Texas, Minnesota and now Appleton, Wisconsin. They have performed in churches, auditoriums and even in the Alamo Dome, in front of 20,000 people, sharing their culture, dance and life with those they meet. They have introduced hundreds to Palestine and – more importantly, Palestinians.

At workshops during both weeks of the ELCA Youth Gatherings, the young people described their lives and realities to American kids like them.

2006 Ramallah DanceWe are from Palestine, and we will never leave it,” one dancer from the Al-Raja Dance Troupe told a crowd of 100 gathered at the ELCA Youth Gathering in San Antonio, Texas, in early July. They described life under occupation, and invited their audience to come and visit them and see for themselves. The group showed a slide presentation, told stories about their lives and taught others steps from “debka,” their folk dance. When they showed slides and told about the almost 30-ft wall being built through the middle of Palestinian land, only a fraction of the Americans present knew anything about it. Two young people from Nebraska were shocked by what they heard, and told the Ramallah group that they would organize a trip to visit them. “We want to get involved and do something. We have to,” they said.

The group has been touring in the US since mid-June, performing and telling their stories in Chicago, Nebraska and California and has now reached San Antonio, Texas. Here they performed for the Multi-Cultural Youth Leadership Event and will be performing at both sessions of the Youth Gathering. After San Antonio, they will travel to Minnesota, Wisconsin and New England.

Group tour leader the Rev. Ann Helmke facilitates a workshop with 6 of the Al-Raja Dance Troupe. They talked about life under occupation, what it is like to live under curfew or behind a wall and be forbidden to leave their town without permits. “We’re just human beings. We want to live normal lives like anyone else.” The group asked the Americans to come and see them and to read more about the situation.

2006 Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Group