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Festival Letter
Where to?! A Question of a Life Time
 
Where to?! The daily question we pose to our children and spouses, and the daily question posed to us by our mothers, spouses, children and all those responsible for us. It is a question raised by the Israeli soldiers on checkpoints, and it is the daily question we ask our self. Where To?! It has become a distinctive Palestinian question.
 
Yet… why this question in particular 'Where To?!’ Why not, for instance, 'how are you going?’ or 'why are you going?’ or 'what do you expect to see when you reach there?’
 
Where To?! Is it because we fear the path that we will be taking? Or the fear of those who ask us about our wellbeing along that path? Or their wish to impose their authority upon us? All this, despite knowing the difficulties of our journey, and assuming for sure that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
 
Where To?! Is it because we question our choices, or is it because the one asking us is questioning the validity of our decision?
 
Even the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival is subjected on a yearly basis to answer this question: Where To is the festival leading? And what new aspects are you offering this year?
 
Where To?! is the slogan of Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival in its 14th edition.
Where To?! is a question we raise to look for the answer together; a question about our national, social, economic, cultural and educational fate and future. It is a question about the future of arts in general, and dance in particular, in light of a harsh and difficult socio-political and economic reality.
 
However, the more difficult question to answer is 'what’s new’? as continuity revives and renews life and alleviates the state of depression. Yet, how can we present novelty when we spend 90% of our time searching for a source of funding and convincing those around us about the importance of what we are doing, while spending only 10% of our time in programing and searching for novelty?
 
Despite this, our innovation this year is the Palestinian Dance Forum. This year, the festival organizes the Palestinian Dance Forum, the first of its kind in Palestine. The festival invited various renowned Arab and international personalities representatives of dance festivals, producers, dance school directors and other persons related to the field of contemporary dance.
 
The Forum aims at providing space for Palestinian dance companies and for Palestinian dancers to present their thoughts and work, as well as, their produced and unproduced projects to the guests. It also strives to study the possibilities for cooperation, to host them in Arab and international festivals, to participate in productions, to provide an artistic residency for Palestinian dancers and companies with the aim of developing their productions or to offer educational and training opportunities for them.
 
Our innovation, this year as well, is manifested through opening a dialogue about The Body in the Arab World. This year, the festival is organizing its 8th session of the Dance and Society Conference, through which the topic of 'The Body in the Arab World’ is addressed. Did the body, as a means of expression, rid itself off societal taboos? What is the body’s dilemma in our Arab World? How can we combine the aesthetic dimension with the social dimension of the dancer’s body? What is our relation to the body and how do we perceive it?
 
The conference offers dancers the opportunity to have a dialogue about the concept of the body in the Arab World generally, and the concept of the dancing body as a language of expression particularly, especially in light of the changes our Arab World is living in.
 
The festival in this year’s edition includes indoor performances, as well as, outdoors in public places. Dance companies from France, Australia, Britain, Greece, Switzerland, Estonia, Norway, Tunisia and Palestine will take part. It will also include dance workshops, production of dance films, the Dance and Society Conference, and the production of joint performances resulting from workshops held before and during the festival.
 
The Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival 2019 is organized in partnership with Ramallah Municipality, with the sponsorship of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), the Swiss Arts Council - Prohelvetia, Jawwal Company, A.M. Qattan Foundation, the Representative Office of Switzerland, the National Beverage Company, the Muna and Basem Hishmeh Foundation, in cooperation with the Consulate General of France, the British Council, the Palestinian National Theatre, Yabous Cultural Centre, with media coverage by Palestine Television, 24 FM Radio, Raya Media Network, InterTech, Zoom and Romman Media Organization.
 
 
We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation for all those who believed in us and in what we do. We also thank the festival cadre, volunteers and guests. We send you our love, appreciation and respect.
 
Sareyyet Ramallah

 

Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival Team 2019