‘Dabke’ is the name for modern Levantine Arab folk circle dance that originates from Canaanite. Over the centuries, the dance gained tremendous popularity in the Middle East region, and specifically in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The dance is traditional for joyous and wedding celebrations.
Dabke stretches from right to left in a circle-like shape. The leader heads the line to see other dancers and the viewers at once. Original Dabke dancers deployed age-old Canaanite fertility rites to celebrate fertility of plants. The rites were important while getting rid of evil forces and protecting the security of seedlings. Later, the Phoenicians became the original teachers of Dabke while the dance itself makes indispensable part of the rich Phoenician dance culture. Some researchers of Dabke hold that the dance’s birthplace was Levant as part of rhythmic go-together songs people sang while helping one another and making the work fun. The geography of Dabke is vast and extended while every individual place adds its own specificity to the dance. For instance, there are about 19 types of The Jordanian Dabke. In their turn, Palestinians perform ‘shamaliyya’, ‘sharawiyya’, ‘karaadiyya’, and ‘dabke niswaniyyah’. With such a variety, Dabke dancers apply various sets of songs traditionally related to the love theme.
Overall, from country to country, there are six main types of the Dabke dance. “Al-Shamaliyya” is the most famous of all involving a group of men who hold hands together in a semicircle. “Al-Sha’rawiyya” features strong male steps. “Al-Karaadiyya” features slow movements of the dancers accompanied by the flute player in the middle of the circle. “Al-Farah” is the most active type of Dabke requiring physical fitness from the dancers. “Al-Ghazal” features three strong stomps of the right foot and is rather tiresome. “Al-Sahja” is the most popular in Jordan and Palestine especially during the celebrations of wedding festivities.