Dabke (Arabic: دبكة) is an folk dance native to the Levant countries of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Syria. It is widely performed by both men and women at weddings and other joyous occasions.
Dabke combines the circle dance and line dancing. The leader of the dabke heads the line, which forms from right to left, alternating between facing the audience and the other dancers.
According to one folk tradition, the dance originated in the Levant where houses were built from stone with a roof made of wood, straw and dirt. The dirt roof had to be compacted which required stomping the dirt hard in a uniform way to compact it evenly.
In English, its name is also spelled Dabka, Dubki or Dabkeh (plural Dabkaat). Follow along on our tutorial to learn how to make these dabke dancers out of paper bags for hours of puppetry fun.
To make our dancers, first we have to start with the face. We placed double sided tape over the rectangular bottom of the bag. Keep the bag closed so placing the tape is easier.
Then we added our beige paper to cover up the seam lines of the bag. We cut off any over hang paper left over.
Using the same methods, we clothed our dancers in a red shirt and green pants.
We took our extra paper and cut off one inch wide stripes. We didn’t really measure how long they were, just eyeballed how long legs and arms should/could/might be. We set them aside for now to work on the neck.
To make our keffiyeh, first cut a 1 inch stripe of paper then measuree across our bag body and then cut off any access. We took the extra and cut it in half length wise for the ties of the scarf.
We took the sharpie and drew small Xs across the ties and double Xs across the neck area.
When the drawing was done, we placed double sided tape on the edge and added the ties.
We added more double sided tape across the neck area and over the ties for the main part of the keffiyeh. Tuck it under the neck a little.
Now we were ready to add our arms and legs. First we hole punched, making sure to only go through only the top layer of bag. (Tip – If you punch all the way though, you will not be able to put your arm in comfortably.)
Insert the brad through the one inch strip, then the body and close off the back.
Add a dap of glue to the goolgy eyes and place them on the biege paper.
Use the sharpie to draw in the rest of the facial features. We added a beard and hair.
Your dancer is now ready to start a line!
Since it’s hard to dance the dabke alone, we decided to use our supplies that were out and make him a friend.
Now they are both ready to dance the afternoon away. (Yallah! is the Arab word for Let’s Go!)
If you enjoyed making these dabke dancers, be sure to check out our clothespins ones too:
If you bought an entire case of paper bags and need more fun DIY tutorials to make with them, check out what we do with them on this tutorial:
This post is part of our month long series in March to learn about the Arab culture. Please visit other posts during National Arab American Heritage Month or stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest.