Debke - Image owned by shirien_87


Dabke is a popular folk dance which was originated from the mountain zones of the Levantine region. It is widely recognized in the Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli territories as ceremonial dance which is performed in circular shape. Sometimes, historically referred as of Canaanite or Phoenician origin; Dabke, Dabka or Dabkeh is distinctive for its jumping movements, much similar to the tap dancing. In Palestine and Lebanon, Dabke dance is of more importance where it is considered as the national dance.

Dabke is a popular folk dance which was originated from the mountain zones of the Levantine region. Image by sheffield_psc
Dabke is a popular folk dance which was originated from the mountain zones of the Levantine region. Image by sheffield_psc

Dabke is performed with the traditional musical beats that are accompanied with the songs of popular artists of this region. These days, many variations of Dabke have been introduced. But basically, Dabke has two versions; either performed by men or women separately or by both together in comparatively liberal gatherings.

Dabke has two versions; either performed by men or women separately or by both together in comparatively liberal gatherings. Photo by 1789Photography
Dabke has two versions; either performed by men or women separately or by both together in comparatively liberal gatherings. Photo by 1789Photography

According to a firm belief, Dabke in Lebanon was performed by the villagers in the ancient times on the eves of weather changes. In Lebanon, people used to have houses made with mud and tree branches and every year, when weather changed, their houses usually became damaged. They used to gather and help each other by fixing the cracks on the roofs and start stomping their feet while walking on the roof so that the mud would adjust. In those times, the families had close bonds with each other and they participated in each other’s joy and grief, valuing the same as of their own.

Dabke is performed with the traditional musical beats that are accompanied with the songs of popular artists of this region. Image courtesy - The Ananasa Blog
Dabke is performed with the traditional musical beats that are accompanied with the songs of popular artists of this region. Image courtesy – The Ananasa Blog

With the passage of time, when many new ways of constructions were adopted, the same tradition was followed in the form of Dabke, in which the people felt their conventional cultural enthusiast and; in this way, they paid tribute to their predecessors and their close association with each other. An improvised singing pattern “Daloonah” was also familiarized.

In Palestine, Dabke is of two kinds, known as the shamaliyya and sha'rawiyya.
In Palestine, Dabke is of two kinds, known as the shamaliyya and sha’rawiyya.

In Palestine, Dabke is of two kinds, known as the shamaliyya and sha’rawiyya. Dabke is not an easy form of dancing and it actually requires lot of practice and stamina. Usually, it is lead by one guide who is known as Lawweeh. Lawweeh regulates the movements and gaits of the dance by his or her instructions. The lawweeh is expected to be particularly skilled in accuracy, ability to improvise, and quickness.

Lebanese DABKE - Lebanon - Image by whl.travel
Lebanese DABKE – Lebanon – Image by whl.travel

Dabke has been passed on by Levantine Arabs from generations to generations and is an integral part of the native festivities. In Lebanon and Palestine, the Dabke dance is a symbol of national prestige and patriotism. In Lebanon, Debke is proudly danced with magnificent skills along with the songs of the Lebanese folk singers who sing in their typical Lebanese dialect. Lebanese artists are famous throughout the Arab world for their singing style and Lebanese dialect. Nowadays, Dabke is also danced with slight variations, different steps and rhythms in various countries of the Middle East as well.

British Embassy Lebanon - Dabke performers - Image by UK in LEBANON
British Embassy Lebanon – Dabke performers – Image by UK in LEBANON

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