(photo credit: Courtesy)
This Lag B'Omer, if you keep an ear out, you may hear more than just the sizzle of a nearby bonfire. Inspired by dancing legends Bill "Bo'Jangles" Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines to name a few, hundreds of pairs of feet will be tapping in time at this year's Israeli National Tap Dancing Festival.
Now in it's second year, the festival, which is one of many taking place around the world during May, is organized to coincide with the birthday of the late "Bo Jangles," affectionately known as the "father of tap." It will also commemorate the birth of the dance which originated in Ireland and Africa, and later developed in America in the 1880s.
The International Tap Dancing Festival has been an annual event in countries such as America, Ireland and the UK for over 20 years now. Leenoy Slonimsky, who co-directs the show along with Keren Levin Bergman, explains how important the project is to the dancing enthusiasts of Israel.
"The tap dancing community here is so small (approximately 1000 dancers and 20 teachers in the whole country). Without someone to really push and support events like this, they simply don't happen...we tried to do a similar show in the late Eighties early Nineties, but it never went through. Now we have the support behind the festival and we are very excited about how far it can go."
This year's event is being subsidized by the Israeli Dance Club. "We don't organize the festival to make money. No one is in the dancing business to reap profit...it is entirely for the love of the dance. We are addicted to rhythm. We eat, sleep and live it," says Slonimsky, who comes from a long family of dancers and choreographers.
For NIS 150, tap dancing enthusiasts of all ages and abilities will get to be an active part of the festival. Kicking off at 10a.m., the day opens with a reception where guests will be entertained by street theater acts and special tap dancing themed performances.
The core of the day will consist of a series of master classes, including body drumming classes and practical tap. The price of the ticket also includes a souvenir festival shirt, lunch, entrance to a fair where clothing, accessories, music and artifacts will be on sale, and entrance to the ending gala show.
The final gala will include a medley of shows and routines performed by 500 pupils from dance schools throughout Israel. They will perform a variety of styles and dancing techniques including Clogging (a cowboy style of movement), Irish dancing, Hip Hop, Broadway and traditional tap.
There will be group and solo performances, and the show will climax with the well-known "Shimsham" dance routine. The finale will also feature special guest and Emmy Award winner, Ted Levy, and Michelle Dorrance, a choreographer and performer at the Winter Olympics 2002 and the Cannes Film Festival. Both Levy and Dorrance will also take part in practical dance classes throughout the day.
The festival will be held at Nes Ziona's Kiryat HaTarbut on Lag Ba'Omer, Sunday May 6. Tickets are available to attend the finale gala show for NIS 40-60. For more information call 052-870-5105
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