14 July 2009

Gaza~A Good Day

With all the terrible news continually coming out of Gaza, I thought I@d post excerpts of this excellent article from Electric Intifada:
It was a summer Wednesday evening and Muhammad al-Ghreiz, 22, was getting his eight-member team ready for a breakdance show at the al-Baydar restaurant on the beachfront just south of Gaza City. Six months ago, Gaza's beaches were under heavy Israeli bombardment from air and sea, but now this area, near the evacuated Israeli settlement of Netzarim, was about to hear an altogether different kind of sound.

Breakdance, the hip hop dance style that began on the streets of New York City more than 30 years ago has become popular with youth all over the world, even breaking through the tight Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Al-Ghreiz and the other b-boys leapt on to the stage wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Camp Breakerz" -- the name of their group. Their moves caused excitement among the audience -- many went right up to the stage, and others took pictures with their mobile phones of an exuberant scene.

At one point in the 10-minute set, the group formed a circle, as one of their members danced in the middle. Afterwards, al-Ghreiz explained that the circle symbolized the siege on Gaza.

Until January Camp Breakerz often trained at the al-Ahli sports club in the Nuseirat refugee camp. "Unfortunately, the entire club was completely destroyed during the last war and we are now on our own

The team members -- who range in age between 15 and 25 -- contribute some of their own money, according to Ismail. Appeals to local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities for support have proved fruitless even though the break-dancers perform at the invitation of many such groups.

Ahmad Ismail stresses that Gaza's b-boys are are developing their own original style: "The most important part of what we do is education ... Our main message is to reflect our own unique Palestinian situation. We educate our team members not to be blind imitators of western-style dancing."

Ahmad al-Hourani, 16, said that when he began break-dancing his cousins told him, "this is disco [a term generally used to describe western-style dancing], and that is against our Palestinian traditions." But they too came around, recognizing it as a skilled and worthwhile activity. "I dream of becoming a great breakdancer," al-Hourani said, "when I dance, I feel I have achieved something." read more here
Would be nice to find an NGO to fund them and give them a place to continue this where other young people could come and learn. The young people of Gaza need safe places and activities they can do to escape their open air prison.