The Belgian-Palestinian dance production Badke (the title is a play on dabke) is running until Feb. 20 at the Fleck Dance Theatre in Toronto (harbourfrontcentre.com).
A co-production between ballets C de la B, KVS (Royal Flemish Theatre) and the Palestinian A.M. Qattan Foundation, Badke is a 10-dancer piece inspired by dabke, an Arab folk dance from the Levant. Choreographed and directed by Koen Augustijnen, Rosalba Torres Guerrero and Hildegard De Vuyst, the work infuses a traditional line dance with acrobatic tumbling, hip hop, ballet and other Arab techniques like belly dancing.
Badke was a part of Shubbak 2015, where it was a great hit.
In Toronto, the show included a preshow talk about dabke, the dance form on which the show is based, and “an open-ended discussion about what might happen when folk performance leaps outside of its local social contexts.”
A review in The Star noted that the dance, though inspired by a traditional folk dance, was about change and innovation rather than tradition. Speaking of the dancers, the reviewer notes that:
the diversity of their dance backgrounds, including traditional dabke and European contemporary forms along with acrobatic circus arts, gives Badke appealing texture and stylistic variety. It also suggests the not always comfortable collision of past and present, of traditional culture as a marker of national identity and the aspirations of a new generation to engage with the wider world.
Badke is not the only instance of “updating” the dabke – there was of course the controversy over Zvi Gotheiner’s DABKE, and many traditional dabke troupes today have incorporated “non-traditional” elements into the dance.