Issue No.
196, August 2014 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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     Artist of the Month

Khaled Barghouthi

Independent Dancer Who Struggles between Kobar and Ramallah

Khaled Barghouthi is a 23-year-old Palestinian from the village of Kobar. He is a talented dancer who has been causing quite a buzz on the Palestinian cultural and art scene. His main area of focus is contemporary dance, which admittedly is not the most common form of dance adopted by young Palestinian men, that is, if they dance at all. At the age of 11, before his passion for dance was awakened, Khaled participated in a conference called Ramallah Children under Israeli Invasion, he appeared on Watan television, and he wrote in newspapers and kids’ magazines that were published by NGOs about childhood in Palestine. As a teenager, he loved being around theatres, and it was then that he wrote his first novel. At the age of 16, his eyes and heart moved towards dance after he watched several series of So You Think You Can Dance, YouTube videos, and Western studies. At sixteen, he started dabke dancing with the El-Funoun group of Ramallah. After high school, he enrolled at Birzeit University in 2008, to study journalism and media. He also joined the Judour Student Dabke Group and created new dance techniques. A year later, Khaled decided to leave university. He took the risk that many Palestinians have taken in leaving their own country to pursue their passion. He went to Belgium to study dance. Although the villagers teased him about his studies in dance, his sister tried to ease the situation by bragging about his high grades in other subjects.

Later he joined the Performing Arts Summer School (PASS), organised through The Royal Flemish Theatre and the A.M. Qattan Foundation. The theatre was transformed into a dance space by Hildegard De Vuyst, director of the Palestinian Belgium dance team, with Belgium choreographers Koen Augustijnen and Rosalba Torres Guerrero, who inspired Khaled through their total commitment to dance. On Nakba Day, Khaled created and performed a dance in Manara Square in commemoration of the Ramallah Invasion in 2002, incorporating Palestinian elements that related to the Nakba. He is currently creating a project about contemporary dance and teaching in art and theatre academies. He offers two workshops for multi-disciplinary artists based on transforming the French-German Cultural Center library space into a dance space.

He felt most accepted as a dancer on April 21 during his solo performance about nostalgia and memory, called 21st of April, for the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival. He hopes that next year he will be able to establish his own contemporary dance company in Palestine, called EC DANCE COMPANY, which stands for ENTER CITY. The company would perform for all Palestinians wherever they live - in refugee camps, cities, or villages. The purpose of EDC is to raise awareness among Palestinians about dance and to awaken in them an appreciation for their identity and their passion. He is working on a contemporary dance project this summer called 48 4 Points in preparation for next year’s dance festival. He is also working on a co-production with Belgian orchestras and Palestinian dancers. Last year when he tried to propose a partnership, he was rejected because the audition required high ballet standards and techniques that he did not yet possess. Of the rejection, he says, “It was funny to get rejected because that had never happened before. But it was fun working through the workshop toward acceptance.” When asked what he would do if one day he were no longer able to dance, he said that he would be a creator, a theatre maker, and a choreographer.

Khaled is a sweet, sensitive, outgoing, smart adult who multi-tasks between work, dance, and study within the context of a conservative family and village. Khaled takes advice from no one but uses the wisdom of Pina Bausch as his guide, “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost.” The hardships he has faced because of his family and the ridicule and gossip of the villagers have not prevented him from becoming the skilled and passionate teacher, dancer, and performer that he is today.

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