The Aesthetics of Resistance in Palestinian Folkloric Dance.
A Film By John Halaka

The Aesthetics of Resistance in Palestinian Folkloric Dance, focuses on the Palestinian Folkloric Dance troupe Wishah. Working under the direction of the renowned choreographer Mohammed Atta, Wishah‘s creative practice combines forms of traditional Palestinian folkdance, with modern dance and non-verbal theatrical narratives. Their overriding objective is to express aspects of the complex personal and collective existence of Palestinians living under occupation as well as in exile.

The film consists largely of interviews with Mohammad Atta and other members of the dance troupe. The conversations explore their personal, aesthetic, cultural and political relationships to the tradition of Palestinian Folkloric Dance. The film also looks at how that tradition is being kept alive in numerous youth and cultural centers throughout the West Bank and Gaza, as a way of instilling cultural knowledge and pride in younger generations of Palestinians.

The film on Wishah is part of a series of documentaries entitled Desire and Resistance in Contemporary Palestinian Art. The purpose of that project is to explore and present to Western audiences a series of vignettes representing the diversity of contemporary Palestinian Art. I began working on this project during the summer of 2006 when I recorded interviews with several Palestinian artists. The first film in that series, The Presence of Absence in the Ruins of kafr Bir’im, introduced the viewer to Mr. Ibrahim Essa, an elderly folk poet and retired construction worker from the Galilee who survived the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Mr. Essa employs an ancient oral tradition of poetry that, in style, is similar to what is now called “Spoken Word Poetry”. This improvisational oral tradition has been around for centuries in Northern Palestine and continues to be used by farmers and villagers to express the community’s intimate relationship to the land; a yearning for past times; and their cultural, psychological and physical attachment to the ancient and modern ruins that exist throughout that region. The second film completed for the project is titled Wounds of the Heart: An artist and Her Nation. The film reflects on the sculptural and performative work of visual artist Rana Bishara. Her artwork is deeply embedded in and informed by the Palestinian experiences of displacement, exile and occupation, as well as the desire of Palestinian refugees to return to the lands they were displaced from.

Anticipated release: TBA, SittingCrow Productions
Produced, filmed, written, narrated and directed by John Halaka.

For further information regarding the film, please contact John Halaka at [email protected] or call 619/260-4107.