Junior expresses culture through dance

Najib Rahl performs traditional Lebanese dance

Alexis Machoka

Two years ago, junior Najib Rahl and his friends at St. Maron’s Catholic Church decided to join the church’s dance group. Since then, the group has performed many paying gigs including weddings, festivals and parties, according to Rahl.

“My church, which is in northeast Minneapolis, is a catholic Lebanese church. Our youth group decided to make our own dance group and we learned how to dance the traditional lebanese way,” Rahl said. “ Now we perform at a lot of special events like weddings, festivals and parties.”

Sharbella Farhat, Najib’s volunteer dance teacher, said she teaches Dabke, which is a unique form of Lebanese dance.

“You can’t compare (Dabke), it’s kind of it’s own thing. It’s a lot of stomping and kicking,” Rahl said.

Rahl said the typical amount of time needed to learn a dance ranges from one day to three weeks.

“Since we have a lot of kids, they don’t all show up to the practices at the same time so it might take us a long time or like a good three weeks to learn a dance, but some dances have only taken a day,” said Rahl.

Rahl said most of their performances take place at arabic weddings, but they have also provided entertainment for those of other cultures.

(The dance group has) performed at a mexican wedding which is kind of weird, but for the most part its arabic weddings that we dance at,” Rahl said

 Rahl said in addition to dancing, he plays music at the performances.

“The main thing I do is play the drums,” Rahl said. “I don’t know what (the drum) is called in English, but it’s called Tableh.”

Farhat said Rahl possesses natural talent at playing the drums and learns well just by listening to the music.

“ No one even had to teach him that he also just picked that up hearing the music,” Farhat said.

Rahl said his family encourages his dancing and even encourage him to dance.

Sometimes they come and watch our performances and they kind of pushed me into doing it,” Rahl said.

Rahl said dance has taught him how to be part of a team.

“I’ve learned coordination, teamwork and learning how to coordinate with others” Rahl said.

Rahl said he loves dance because it’s something he had never done before.

 “(Lebanese dance is) fun and I enjoy doing it. It’s something new and it’s good exercise,” Rahl said.