A Palestinian dance company marked today’s International Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine by appealing to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to help Palestinians obtain their freedom and play a constructive role in the international community.
At a Headquarters press conference to show how dance and cultural events could promote the Palestinian cause, a representative of the El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe said the group had come to the United Nations “to dance its tragedies and dreams” and convey its desire for true peace and equal humanity. The press conference was sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations
Omar Barghouti, a dance trainer and choreographer for the group, said El-Funoun wished to thank the United Nations, on behalf of Palestinian artists, for the Organization’s sustained efforts to help the Palestinian people through decades of Israeli military occupation and other forms of oppression. “Indeed, without the UN as the embodiment of international cooperation and legality, Palestinian human and political rights would not have found proper expression or basic protection”, Mr. Barghouti said, reading from a letter addressed to the Secretary-General and signed by Ekram Quran, Chair of the dance troupe’s Board of Directors.
Others participating in the press conference included Nadya Rasheed, First Secretary, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine; Jamal Haddad, in charge of fundraising for the group; and Riham Barghouti, an El-Funoun dancer.
Created in 1979 by a small group of committed artists, El-Funoun is an independent, non-profit organization run primarily by volunteers that has evolved into Palestine’s leading dance company. The group was scheduled to perform its collection, “Dancing and Tragedies and Dreams”, tonight at United Nations Headquarters. Other performances were to be held at other venues in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Dearborn, Michigan. The group performed about 20 to 30 times a year in the United States and Europe, but had never been able to perform in Gaza, Mr. Barghouti said.
Responding to a question about artistic freedom, Mr. Barghouti said the group viewed dance as a form of civil resistance.
Asked about its funding, Mr. Haddad said that was generated by ticket sales, donations from companies and other donors like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Sweden.