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Notes from the BeginningRick in Philadelphia 9.4.09 
Irgun Harokdim


Notes from the Beginning
by Rick in Philadelphia


The girls in our 5th and 6th grade classes knew the Bar Mitzvah age was approaching and that they wanted to be sure to have dance partners for the receptions. We met after school at one of their apartments, spent hours playing the record “Goody, Goody” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and practiced to that great paced Lindy. As teenagers we watched and mimicked the dancers on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” and attended the dances in the school cafeteria or local Y. And so began my dance career.

By the time I met my future wife, we were both avid rock-and-roll dancers, did a bit of ballroom, and even loved the fun of the square dance. We danced on stage at the Cape Cod Melody Tent with the Boys of Bandstand (Frankie, Fabian and Bobby)! But we had absolutely no knowledge that Israeli dancing, beyond the Hora and Miserlou, even existed.

It was in the late ’70 when we met Rabbi Dan, aka the “dancing rabbi”, at our synagogue in Rhode Island and were introduced to Israeli folk dance. He held 2 hour dance sessions once a week, but family and work commitments often kept us from becoming regulars. As our family grew older so did my wife’s time commitment to attend. But, I became a dance drop-out. Soon my wife, who was smitten, made tapes of all the music, and began to teach several of the simpler dances to the children at the Day School and Hebrew schools in town. When Rabbi Dan moved on to a bigger congregation, the group floundered without real leadership, and my wife dabbled in international dance.

Eleven years ago our move to suburban Philadelphia for a new employment opportunity, turned into a dancing opportunity as well. One of the first things my wife did was to find out if there was any Israeli dancing in town. She found several sessions within an hour’s drive, and after participating for a few years alone, one instructor was starting a beginners’ group and she encouraged me to come. And so, I became a beginner- again. We spent an hour with the novices, step-by-step, moving in a circle, re-learning the basics. By the end of the evening I was tired and out-of-breath and recognized that I had better get back in shape and lose some weight in order to be able to participate.

Now, six years later, I am proud to say that I have become a regular weekly Israeli dancer; I do couple dancing, have been to a few marathons and, in the past two years, have danced in Israel at multiple locations. Along the way I have learned a few tips for success that I would like to share. Don’t be shy; everyone was a beginner at one time. Keep moving. Come early to the dance sessions when most of the teaching is slower paced and more repetitive. Learn the names of the steps, Yemenite left, Yemenite, right, pivot, cherkessia, sivuv (turn) etc. as most dances are merely various combinations of the same movements. Find yourself an accomplished, long legged dancer, dressed in black, and stay at their left. Keep moving in the circle. Come often. Attend classes more than once a week if you want to remember the dances and attempt to catch up. Stay late, when the more experienced dancers arrive, and dance behind the circle to copy from the best. Give yourself a break; learning a new dance can be difficult. Did I mention to keep moving? Like me, it may take you six months to a year to feel comfortable, but you will succeed. Your brain and your body will thank you for your effort.



לכתבה זו נרשמו 2 תגובותלהסתרת התגובותלהוספת תגובה

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0.הרקדן מדן  
 ISRAELI FOLK DANCING AND ROCK'N'ROLL
 Dear Rick
I thank you for sharing your storey and dancing experience
I could feel and sympathize with your words since I myself started as a young boy to dance what today we call the 60's
yes like you, my first step in israel folk dancing were very basic and simple while I was a kid and a member of the scouts (tsofim) in Morocco where I was born
then early sixties I discovered rock and roll and later twist and felt engulfed in these styles
as a teenager I loved rock and roll and still do
but simultaneously I was "forced" by my high school headmaster to take israeli folk dancing and later more modern ones and I felt that It was adding a new dimension to my love for dancing
this is now my main dancing activity but I do other types of dancing but nothing can be comparable to israeli folk dancing
while I lived and visited the states I danced in boston and brookline and MIT I was surprised from the amount of dances and that there was quite a large group of advanced dancers
Dear Rick, before closing I would like to ask to you share with us your feeling as to the fact that every week there are many new dances and we kind of neglect the old good dances
regards
and when in Israel join us in one of our dancers association activity
yitzhak

1.ורד  
 Beginning
 Thank you, Rick, for your notes. It was very interesting to read.
I remember my first year as a beginner. I was a teenager in Rehovot Israel, very shy, and had troubles remembering all the steps. I thought that all the other dancers are laughing at me.
It took me more than a year to be able to dance without noticing the others.
Today I dance like no one is watching, know all the steps and enjoy dancing very much.

Vered, Israeli Folk Dancers Association

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