Most folk troupes include traditional weddings as part of their programs, but the one the Palestinian Children Folk Troupe presented last night at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall was unusual. This wedding turns to tragedy with the "news of the martyrdom of the Groom," as the program note puts it. The bride, and her two very young attendants, change into military uniform and pledge "to continue the struggle."
Nearly all of the 22 songs and dances presented by the company concerned the current situation in the Middle East. Old songs had been updated or "transformed" to reflect life in a country torn by war, and what would normally have been a folk concert seemed more a political rally. The audience was vocally sympathetic, cheering and answering the chants of the performers.
The children, mostly teen-agers and all students of the Isa'd Al-Tufulah School in Lebanon, were refreshingly "non-professional," natural and enthusiastic as, accompanied by bagpipes, drums and brass, they sang songs with titles like "Let the World Hear" and "Beloved Homeland."
The dances were composed of minimal movements -- small hops, stepping in place, squat jumps -- but loud, the booted dancers stomping determinedly. The most chilling, and one of the most popular parts of the program was the sight of the two littlest girls, one bearing a toy gun, the other a huge flag, dancing fiercely to the wild music of the bagpipes.