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WATCH: Breaking past cultural boundaries for a shared love of hip hop dancing

By Eli Lillis - October 08, 2018
Section: [Main News] [Videos] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [culture]

Curious onlookers from the street peek through the fence, as classic hip hop beats fill the basketball court turned dancefloor in Sareyyet club, Ramallah.

This is Battle De Danse hip-hop.

A mixture of dance, acrobatics and performance, this dance battle between French and Palestinian crews is completely unique in its style. While initially the opposing teams can seem antagonistic towards one another - it is a 'battle’ after all - there was a wonderful atmosphere and dancers always embraced after a performance.
Whilst in Palestine, the Pockemon crew are running breakdancing workshops with children.
The Pockemon crew is currently touring Palestine, as organised through the French institute in Jerusalem.

While the Pockemon Crew started in Lyon, France and have been together for almost 30 years. It is one of the most successful hip-hop dance groups with more than 15 international and national awards.
“There’s no coach here, there’s not a lot of people doing this kind of dance here, so that was a problem for us,” Sayeh told Palestine Monitor.
Palestine’s own Dance Boy Team is decidedly younger, starting only five years ago. One of the dancers, Ameed Sayeh, spoke about the crew’s humble beginnings.
“It all started when I watched the movie Step Up,” Sayeh said with a laugh. “That was it for me, I saw that and wanted to do the moves.”
The Dance Boy Team learnt their moves almost exclusively from watching YouTube movies.
Dance Boy Team started in one street in Nablus, when Sayeh and two of his friends started practicing dance moves in their homes, without the others knowing.
The dance battle included a segment with Palestinian children, after attending a workshop with the Pockemon crew.
One night the friends were talking and realised they shared a similar interest, and dance boy team was started.

“I’ve got moves,” Sayeh fondly remembers the night. “After that we started training. For me it was every day. Every day!”
“I think this trip could be a source of inspiration for a forthcoming show,” Hamchaoui told Palestine Monitor.
According to Rachid Hamchaoui, from the Pockemon Crew, hip hop was created to give a positive message, and can teach you how to channel a bad energy into a good energy.
“During the battle when I saw all these young people for an hour, they forgot the difficulties of everyday life,” said Hamchaoui. “Everyone brings back something to try and bring something positive.”
“Our goal here is to release emotions through dance,” Hamchaoui told Palestine Monitor.
Indeed, the cultural exchange was appreciated by the Palestinian team.
“It’s a great thing having an international crew coming here [and to meet] other people who like dance as much as yourself,” said Sayeh.

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