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Dance As Peace Practice: In Dance We Trust

Objective: To immerse participants in a hands-on experience of using art and culture as tools for peace practices, conflict resolution, and community-building.

"When words fail, can we find trust in the language of dance?"

This interactive workshop examines the connectedness between the body, communication, and social cohesion. Movement can be the foundation for trust, peace practices, and conflict resolution.

No dance training or experience is required, just an open and inquisitive mind towards peace practices and connection. Through interactive storytelling, participants will imagine moments where dance became a beacon of hope on the streets of Athens, where rhythm challenged stereotypes in New York, and where a shared beat wove a fabric of trust among international leaders in Chicago.

Participants will practice Dabke dance and sense the trust required to move in harmony with others, and grasping the intricate dance of give and take in conflict resolution. By the end of the workshop, participants will have an embodied experience of trust, a deep understanding of its nuances, and a renewed belief in the power of dance and culture as instruments of peace and community-building.


About the facilitator:

Community Leader and Director, The Syrian and Greek Youth Forum

Wael Haffar Habbal is a Syrian asylee living in Greece who is fostering active political engagement among Greece’s migrant communities and reshaping the narratives that portray refugees as victims rather than leaders. He co-founded The Syrian Greek Youth Forum (SGYF) in 2018, a community-based organization that brings together artists, activists, and academics to advocate for human rights and to support social equality in Greece. Wael’s organization provides award-winning cultural programs and professional development opportunities to migrants and refugees including the Active Citizens Project, the Athens Food Collective, and the Initiative on Workplace Training, an initiative that links job-seeking refugees with employment opportunities. Working in collaboration with the Athenian government and the Onassis Cultural Center, the largest cultural center in Greece, Wael has also organized cultural festivals to celebrate and promote cultural diversity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wael’s organization worked in partnership with public health organizations to donate 50,000 surgical masks to the Greek Ministry of Health.

From Wael: “From co-founding the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum, which naturally led to the birth of the Al Fawares cultural band, our journey became more profound and intertwined with the community. This band became our voice, our hands that reached out and linked us to the streets, directly to the people. Our involvement in events such as ‘Athens, My New Neighborhood’ and the ‘Anti-Racist Festival’ highlighted our commitment to cultural connectivity. My subsequent collaboration as a dance instructor assistant for ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3’ further enriched my experiences in this realm. Upon arriving in New York, I continued to champion these values, teaching the Dabke dance at the International House. Throughout all these milestones, one truth stood out: the extraordinary power of dance to bridge divides, foster mutual understanding, and cultivate a profound sense of trust.”