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Dance opens new horizons

Osama Awwad performed Dance Flashmobs in Bremen as part of the ifa CrossCulture Tour. In an interview he talks about his impressions of Germany.

© ifa - Osama Awwad

Osama Awwad is a dancer, dramaturge and choreographer from Bethlehem. During his CCP fellowship in 2015, he cooperated with the Backsteinhaus free ensemble in Stuttgart. He is a founding member of the Diyar Dance Theatre. Its vision is to create a space where young adults can celebrate their Palestinian history with traditional folk dance and modern theatre.

Mr Awwad, you took part in the CrossCulture programme in 2015. Please tell us about your most important experience during your internship.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that theatre can vary from one region to another and it can be different in many ways. I’ve learned that we can do theatre on the street or in crowded buildings or in the village or city and not only on stage. The experience of working with a German theatre in Stuttgart taught me that even if we do not speak the same language, we can still give a heartfelt performance that can be special. This opportunity was amazing as I also got to learn about new cultures and work with wonderful theatre people and dancers in Germany. It’s also a new way to learn about everyday life in Germany.

To what extent has this exchange influenced your cultural work in your home country?

When I returned to Palestine, I transferred some of my experience of German theatre to my theatre, the Diyar Dance Theatre. Today, we work differently by using the theatre outside the stage as well, and we use more forms of creativity in some respects.

And how, in your opinion, has your presence inspired people in your host project in Germany?

By participating in A Piece of Cake, I brought the Palestinian reality to Germany by performing the role of a Palestinian citizen who lives under occupation. The play enabled me to share a real personal experience during the second intifada when the army raided my house and searched it room by room. I also talked about the daily suffering of Palestinian people at checkpoints, restrictions on their movements and the lack of basic resources for any ordinary person living in this land.

If you think back to when you first arrived in Germany, what did you find surprising?

I have always been interested in Germany’s fast progress after the war and how the country was rebuilt from rubble. I can understand that and I hope that the conflict in Palestine will end, because I believe that the Palestinian people are civilised and deserve a good life.

Dabkeh Flash Mobs is your contribution to the ifa CrossCulture Tour. What did you set out to do? And how did people respond to those performances?

At first, it was not clear to people what we were doing, but nevertheless it was something new that attracted German people’s attention. They probably wondered what we were doing and whether we would collect money afterward. Of course, the performance was only to present an image of Palestine and Palestinian heritage and to draw attention to the Palestinian issue on a German street – in addition to performing Palestinian folklore dances with Palestinian songs and music.

We also arranged projects in some German schools where we presented a workshop combining drama and Dabkeh. There was a mix of participants in these workshops with German and Arab students from different cultures. The workshops ended with a discussion about the Palestinian conflict.

CrossCulture Tour: ifa celebrates cultural diversity