Nuzeirat Refugee camp, in the middle sector of Gaza strip is home to 66,000 refugees, although initially built to accommodate 16,000. It is here in a cold stone building , monday 6th february, we met Campz breakerz break dancing and hip-hop team.
The atmosphere quickly warmed up as these guys invited us to watch them practice and give us an insight in to their fitness ability, their love of what they do, their camaraderie amongst themselves and their amazing hospitality towards us. The team consists of 8 dancers, one of whom is away at the moment and their manager.
Mohammed Ghraiz ( Funk G )
Bilal Abu shawiesh (Fox)
Ahmed AL Ghraiz (Shark)
Ahmed Al horany (Don)
Ibrahim Ramadan ( Dark
Abdallah Alghraize (Ja.rule)
Ibrahim AL Ashram ( chino )
Abu nemer ( Puma )
Ahmed Ismail ( Pipe ) manager
After a brief warm up, it starts……… The music is going, Jeff sets up his camera and Derek and I sit and watch in amazement. The guys begin with moves from a standing position, almost as an opening display, many moves are performed using the hands and upper body as much as the feet for power or support , other moves are more acrobatic moves requiring momentum, speed, endurance, strength, and control , all done to music , with constant interaction and support from each other. In fact, one guy, Don, claims to be the first in Gaza , capable of doing a head spin….
After the display, we sit with the guys and drink hot sweet tea and Mohammed tells us why the group started, explaining he first learned his art while in Saudi Arabi and on return to Gaza, hoped to continue . Breakdancing , he explains, did not exist here then, so he got together with the rest of the guys and together since 2004 they have built up Camps breakerz. They have trained other groups in different areas of Gaza and now the art form , movement is spreading.
The guys perform at different events , mostly here in Gaza but last year they were allowed permission to travel to Jordan to perform and later this year they will go to west bank to meet up and perform with other groups.
The guys all train here in the stone building in the centre of the refugee camp, all of the work ( still on going) in the building they have done themselves along with practising a minimum of 2 hours a day , sometimes 5 or 6 hours and some of them hold down jobs as nurses in Al shifa hospital. They do not get subsistence or financial help apart from maybe some small fundraising or from events etc but their attitude is still of the belief that they can do this for themselves and hopefully to encourage other’s to find a break from the daily struggle under the siege of Gaza
Their moves and displays are inspired by their surroundings and by the daily struggles of the Palestinians living in Gaza, often times inspired by tragedy, including the suffering and struggles faced by the children and youth of Gaza. They see break dancing as a way to express themselves and their struggle for freedom.
As quoted in an article in NBC news, they are ” breaking boundaries by break dancing”….
check them out at www.campsBreakerz.com
To read more on the refugee camps of Gaza visit :
Pictures by Jeff bright: