This production provided the foundation of Palestinian contemporary dance. Unlike the other productions’ themes, this work addresses a more modern question. By revisiting Palestinian modern history in this work, El-Funoun hopes to contribute to the undergoing process of reformulating Palestinian cultural identity.
The theme chosen for this production was inspired by folklore. Recognizing its role in preserving and developing Palestinian folklore, El-Funoun decided to present a new production that would impress and motivate all ages. It was decided that the Palestinian wedding, one of the richest icons in Palestinian heritage, would be the principal working ground for the production.
“Talla Wara Talla” was a multi-faceted experiment containing some old El-Funoun classics, while examining original dance forms and styles, new costumes, non-traditional music, unconventional choreography and the use of special visual and sound effects. The work was presented as a collection of newly interpreted old dances and novel dances and songs that carried substantial elements of change.
This work was a turning point in El-Funoun’s artistic experience where El-Funoun challenged preexisting notions about how Palestinian dance should be. From the specially designed colorful costumes, to the not-so-familiar choreography that derived from folkloric Palestinian dance, while merging some touches of international contemporary dance forms, to the sound and light effects, El-Funoun broke new grounds and set new standards in Palestinian popular dance. Music was composed especially for this work on lyrics which were also uniquely written for it.
The “International Jerusalem Convention for Popular Palestinian Folklore” invited El-Funoun to open the convention with a new performance. Due to the limited time allocated, the group created a new adaptation based on a different artistic interpretation of a number of songs from “Wadi a-Tuffah” and “Mish’al”. The success of “Afrah Filastiniyah” bolstered the pro-change school of thought within El-Funoun, and consequently had a decisive effect on the group’s artistic planning and overall vision.
Mish’al was a more sophisticated attempt by El-Funoun at story-telling through music and dance. “Mish’al” was distinguished by its dramatic scenario and its logical flow of events, as well as its strong symbolism. The story emphasized love, determination, heroism and patriotism. A choir of outstanding vocalists narrated the events of the story which was taking place during the Ottoman period. The music was based on authentic folkloric tunes that were re-arranged using musical instruments such as Oud and Nai.
This production was a major pillar in El-Funoun’s productions laying the foundations for the identity of Palestinian dance and for the Troupe’s increasing popularity. “Wadi a-Tuffah” was El-Funoun’s first experience in presenting a story in dances and songs. The story started with bidding farewell to the land in search of happiness and well-being abroad, and ended in returning to the land and embracing it, thereby achieving the sought after happiness.
Three years after its inception, El-Funoun presented its first complete work “Folkloric Scenes”. In preparing for this milestone production, extensive field research was done in four Palestinian villages, gathering folkloric and traditional tunes and songs to be used for the production of the show. This performance received First Prize in the Popular Dance Festival Contest, held at Birzeit University in 1982.
Ashira, the new production of El-Funoun culminates more than three decades of its history and artistic work. Ashira is a multi-media production that combines mythology with contemporary issues lived daily by Palestinians connecting as such authenticity with modernity. The stylized dance and music are produced with the concerted efforts of El-Funoun’s artistic and administrative teams joined by the creativity of renowned Palestinian artists.
Striking a fine balance between modernity and heritage, El-Funoun’s “Dance Freedom” includes some of the Groups latest contemporary Palestinian dance work as well as a selection from its classic, folk-inspired repertoire. Through this mix, it aims at sharing Palestine’s cultural vigor and diversity with the world. This production blends themes of harvest, nostalgia, flirtation and defiance.
Produced by: El-Funoun Dance Troupe