Anyone walking into the HaNoar HaOved youth movement branch on a Tuesday in Yarka – a Druze town in northern Israel – might think that they had walked into a dance studio. But actually, they would be seeing the youth movement dance troupe YarKen practicing at the branch. Just this summer, the troupe travelled to Batumi, Georgia to perform at the International Art-Folk Fest in Batumi, Georgia, which celebrated peace and brotherhood through the universal language of music.
Dabke is a traditional Arab folk dance that can be found throughout Arab and Druze towns and villages in Israel and throughout the Middle East. Naghem Moadi, the 31-year-old coordinator of the youth movement branch in Yarka, tell us that “the folk dance connects between adults and youth, and symbolizes happiness. Our youth movement branch was founded in 1981 and has 450 members who come to weekly activities and feel this is their second home. Three years ago, there were a few members who loved dancing Dabke and asked if they could established a dance troupe for the enjoyment of the youth members and children. Since then, the troupe has performed and traveled far and wide – at school here in the village, at the local old-age home, at festivals and competitions throughout the country, and most excitingly, at the international festival in Georgia.
The troupe is the pride of the youth movement branch. Lately the younger children kept asking for a younger dance group to be established, and so Naghem agreed.
Maya Abu Reish, a 17-year-old dancer in the troupe and one its founders, took on the job of organizing the younger group and teaching them Dabke dancing. Maya tells us that dancing isn’t only about expressing oneself, “When I dance I feel that I am doing something good for my soul, and it makes room for other things like volunteering in the youth movement and doing well at school, and it really frees me and also connects me to my traditions and myself.”
HaNoar HaOved – the youth movement associated with Dror Israel – has 18 branches in Druze towns and villages, with some 5,000 participants. These youth members are part of a diverse youth movement made up of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze Israeli youth – all aspiring to fulfill Herzl’s dream of a Jewish and democratic state.
The YarKen Dabke troupe is a source of pride for the Yarka branch, the youth movement, and the entire country!