Gaza's 'Shalva Band' is a team of 10 dabke dancers in wheelchairs

Meet Abeer Al-Hirakli, an inspiring dabke dancer.

Gaza wheelchair dancers (photo credit: screenshot)
Gaza wheelchair dancers
(photo credit: screenshot)
In Israel there is the Shalva Band, a musical band of eight musicians, all of them live with some degree of disability. In the Gaza Strip, there is a team of 10 wheelchair-bound dancers who perform the traditional dabke dance.
Meet Abeer Al-Hirakli, an inspiring dabke dancer, who was recently profiled by the Arabic news outlet Al-Jazeera. Al-Hirakli is a recent university graduate who uses a wheelchair but has refused to let it stop her from taking part in her community’s traditional dance.
“Dabke depends mainly on the movement of the feet,” Al-Hirakli told Al-Jazeera. “However, the idea grew up as I grew up. After graduation from college, I started to think of how I can change the dependency on feet to something that accommodates my disability and the wheelchair.”
Al-Hirakli started taking lessons with dabke dancer and trainer Hany Fatayer. When he saw her passion for dabke, he changed the dance so it relies more on shoulder and hand movements than feet. Now, they train at the al-Salam sport club in Gaza.
“Having people with disabilities on wheelchairs is positive and encouraging,” said Fatayer. “People were astonished and reactions were really positive…. It is such a wonderful show.”
Al-Hirakli said she and her troupe are planning on performing at events across the Gaza Strip.
“In the end, we don’t care about what people say,” she told Al-Jazeera. “What matters is that I have a goal and a dream that I want to achieve, no matter what.”