In July 2011 Nadia Arouri and her colleagues launched the “I CAN MOVE” Community Dance initiative in Palestine, believing that dance as a form of art and a physical, social, emotional, cognitive and intellectual experience can transform the lives of individuals and communities.
A comprehensive training program for the Palestinian community dance trainers has subsequently been inaugurated, based on the evaluation of the 2011 pilot project.
Throughout the 4 years program, dance technique classes were held 3 – 5 times weekly. The participants were introduced to the various contemporary dance techniques such as: Limon, Graham, Cunningham, and Chladek. To enhance their dance technique, the participants received classes in modern Ballet, Yoga, Pilates, Body Mind Centering, among others.
Mohammad Yacoub (founder of the Popular Art Centre in Ramallah and the National Conservatory of Music)
Each semester four intensive Modules were held. Their contents varied from Pedagogy, Anatomy, Non-Violent Communication, Cultural Studies, Psychology, Anthropology, and teaching skills for 1) youth groups, 2) Handicapped groups, 3) Elderly groups, 4) and mixed groups, focusing on age and skill adequate class planning and teachers’ responsibilities.
The focus lied on the following aspects:
Several community dance performances were carried out. During the weeks of long and intensive rehearsal the trainers could practically implement and test their attained knowledge. The performances targeted youth, handicapped and elderly people. Five great performances were implemented with 200 – 250 NEW participants in each:
August 2011: Exile (Street-children/child labourers)
March 2013: The Rite of Spring / Le Sacre du Printemps (Street-children/child labourers)
April 2014: Serendipity (Handicapped)
June 2016: Mixed group (Graduation Project)
A call for trainers was sent to numerous cultural institutions around the West Bank. 20 community dance trainers have started the program with I CAN MOVE in February 2012. The participants are either freelancers or were representatives/members of various Palestinian dancing groups.
Yante recognizes that there are no professional university training for Palestinian dancers available otherwise, and places a special focus on preventive and “Anatomy friendly” dance application.
[Garbarino & Kostelny, 1996]
The Palestinian society is a rich constellation of multifaceted communities. Over the past six decades this society has been forced back into its self, causing opportunities to be reduced for individuals, communities and societies, stunting its growth and ability to expand. Combined with the growing social gaps, this is resulting in higher levels of violence and frequent observations of aggressive behaviour.
The causes of these behavioural trends are many, starting with the humiliation bestowed by the Israeli Occupation, and till the frustration and feelings of disempowerment caused by the political failure and economic restrictions, to name a few. Ergo, our aim is to encourage participants to utilize art as an instrument for self-expression, therefore, gaining the power to convey their viewpoints, and to do so non-violently.
Juliano Mer Khamis (actor, director, activist)
I CAN MOVE, as a three year training program of community dance trainers, is designed to raise the supply of and hence the accessibility to qualitative cultural activities for all strata: social and age (Youth, elderly, handicapped.. etc).
Thought field therapists maintain psychological distress’ first valve is body ache, blockades, and high muscular tensions. I CAN MOVE works towards social empowerment of the marginalized not only by providing the hundreds of participants with the tools of self expression, but most importantly by raising their self-esteem and belief in themselves through body awareness; i.e strengthening one’s connection to their most important tool in life, ones own body.
YANTE stands for: 1) Diligent work makes every goal possible, 2) Quality, 3) Inclusiveness. Central to our work are the partnerships with local actors and organizations, sharing infrastructure and utilities, creating synergies, and working together for better citizenship. YANTE as a neutral Austrian body that utilizes its network to provide a platform for international past experiences to meet local expertise towards tackling this specific problematic of Palestinian social fragmentation. An integral element in this process is mobilizing, empowerment, and especially connecting existing civil society organizations, in particular those working in culture and with youth.
This programme serves towards the development of an independent Palestinian community dance movement that shall be lead and enhanced by the local trainers, where the foreign teachers gradually reduce their presence. Drawing on stories of success and know-how such as that of Ethiopia over the past 17 years or Peru for the past decade; the movement shall develop a particular Palestinian identity that contributes to the repertoire and adds to the terminology of the contemporary dance scene and community dance movements around the world. It shall also address important social and political issues on the local as well as international levels.
The central policy of I CAN MOVE remains to be inclusiveness. The program and project are open to any individual, group or organization desiring to contribute to our activities, and for the benefit of the community and the society. I CAN MOVE aspired as a community project to rise on a wide base of popular support, through its members: its creators.