See­ing Israeli and Jew­ish Dance

  • Review
By – November 29, 2011

This large-for­mat, sump­tu­ous­ly illus­trat­ed anthol­o­gy ful­fills the visu­al promise made in the title; the read­er tru­ly sees” the dance on the pages, not only in the pho­tographs but in the words that swirl and twirl out of the sto­ries in the wide range of essays that com­prise the book. Ing­ber, a dancer, dance schol­ar, and chore­o­g­ra­ph­er, has cre­at­ed a remark­able col­lec­tion of com­men­tary that com­bines aca­d­e­m­ic think­ing with the view­points of the dancers them­selves. A wide vari­ety of Jew­ish dance styles are includ­ed, ema­nat­ing from Europe, Israel and oth­er Mid­dle East coun­tries, Africa, and the Amer­i­c­as and cov­er­ing over two thou­sand years of dance evo­lu­tion in Dias­po­ra com­mu­ni­ties. The writ­ing is as full of vital­i­ty as the artists and artis­tic expres­sions it covers. 

A broad range of times, places, and styles of dance are explored, includ­ing both ancient and mod­ern Israeli folk dance and cur­rent the­atre per­for­mance and tra­di­tions of Hasidic, Yemenite, Kur­dish, Ethiopi­an, and Euro­pean dance are exam­ined. Ing­ber defines Jew­ish dance as encom­pass­ing a full range of artis­tic expres­sion, includ­ing com­mu­ni­ty or eth­nic folk dance, reli­gious rit­u­al dance, and chore­o­graphed per­for­mances. With over 180 illus­tra­tions, the vol­ume is rich­ly dec­o­rat­ed, and each of the pieces of art is care­ful­ly anno­tat­ed. The eigh­teen high­ly cre­den­tialed con­trib­u­tors pose and then answer – each in his or her own indi­vid­ual way – such intrigu­ing ques­tions as what makes dance Jew­ish, how dance enhances Judaism and Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, and how the dif­fer­ent gen­res of dance changed over time. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, con­trib­u­tors, glos­sary, index, notes.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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