CULTURE: Dance

 

Courtesy of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company

 

INTRODUCTION | THEATER | CINEMA | MUSIC | DANCE | LITERATURE | VISUAL ARTS | MUSEUMS | ARCHEOLOGY | MEDIA | SPORTS

Since its opening in 1989, the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater in the newly renovated Neve Tzedek quarter of Tel Aviv has become the focal point of dance activities in the country. Also in Tel Aviv, the Dance Library of Israel and the Israel Dance Archive, in addition to serving as centers for study and research, publish books on dance and the Israel Dance Annual. Training is offered by the dance departments of the Rubin Academies of Music and Dance in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Bat-Dor Studios in Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva, the Thelma Yellin School in Givatayim and a number of other dance schools and workshops throughout the country.

Israel’s contributions to the field of movement education include the methods of Moshe Feldenkrais, which are taught all over the world, and the Eshkol-Wachman movement notation system, one of the three best-known systems of recording dance and movement in written form.

 
 CULTURE: Dance
Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance, Neve Tzedek (Photo: D. Rozen)

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Israeli folk dance emerged as an amalgam of Jewish and non-Jewish folk dance forms from many parts of the world. While in other countries folk dance is fostered to preserve old rural traditions, in Israel it is a constantly developing art form which has evolved since the 1940s, based on historic and modern sources as well as on biblical associations and contemporary dance styles.

The early pioneers brought with them native dances which were adapted to their new milieu. Among them, a Romanian dance, the hora, typified the new life being built in the Land of Israel: its closed circle form gave equal status to all participants, simple movements enabled everyone to take part and the linked arms symbolized the new ideology.

 CULTURE: Dance
Dance festival at Kibbutz Dalia, 1958

Widespread enthusiasm for dance followed, bringing with it the creation of a multifaceted folk dance genre set to popular Israeli songs, incorporating motifs such as the Arab debka, as well as dance elements ranging from North American jazz and Latin American rhythms to the cadences typical of Mediterranean countries.

Folk dance manifests itself both through individual participation and stage performances. Public enthusiasm for folk dancing has led to the emergence of the professional dance leader and to thousands of people participating regularly in dance activities as a recreational outlet. Since 1988, a three-day international folk-dance festival has been held annually at Karmiel, a town in central Galilee, with the participation of troupes from Israel and around the world.

Alongside Israeli folk dance, and influencing it, are the traditional dances of the different ethnic groups, which reflect both the ‘ingathering of the exiles’ and the pluralistic nature of Israel’s society. They are preserved by a number of troupes specializing in the dances of Yemen, Kurdistan, North Africa, India, Georgia, Bukhara, and Ethiopia, and by ensembles which perform Arab, Druze, and Circassian  dances.