Life in Gaza remains a struggle, with a shaky ceasefire in place after Israel's devastating January offensive. Many people were left without electricity, food and medical supplies.
The Red Crescent Theatre in Gaza City was once a vibrant cultural centre and a home to young men and women who practiced and performed Dabkeh, a traditional Palestinian dance. Now it is nothing more than rubble and ashes.
The Israeli attack on Gaza earlier this year left the complex, which included a music school and hospital, completely destroyed. But now the dancers have returned. They're passionate about what they do and they want to send the world a message.
“We're trying to clear the place so we can perform here again. We don’t have jobs. Life’s been tough on us. But we will not surrender. We will live and dance,” says musician Muhammad.
Muhammad is part of an ensemble which traveled all over the Middle East, spreading Palestinian folklore.
The troupe was established in 2001 by its umbrella organisation the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which provides medical and social services in the enclave isolated by an Israeli blockade.
Musician Ahmad says that cultural survival is also one of the goals and that “Ever since we started performing all we've been trying to do is preserving our cultural heritage.”
And there are many talented performers, but for them their art is not just for pleasure – it means much more.
Actress Marah says “There are only very few opportunities in Gaza to do what you like. We gather here to dance, but we're fighting against destruction and death.”
The theatre does not have a roof anymore, it collapsed during a fire after a bomb hit the building, but the young dancers remain optimistic.
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