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It's been a long road for Tamara Mielnik, the Belgian daughter of Holocaust survivors who today is rightfully considered the "Martha Graham of Yiddish dance". After losing her parents at the age of 14, Mielnik began to forge her own path in life and delved into the study of Yiddish. Not long after beginning to study the language, Mielnik blossomed into a full-fledged Yiddish singer. From the age of 17 until her aliya in 1971 at the age of 23, she performed throughout Europe, spreading her love for Yiddish song.
It wasn't until 1973 that she encountered the world of dance, traveling from base to base alongside dancers charged with entertaining soldiers during the Yom Kippur War. In 1974, Mielnik enrolled in the Rubin Academy and her new passion became a reality.
Today Mielnik celebrates a landmark anniversary in her career. As founder and director of the Jerusalem Dance Theater, she is proud to present a double feature performance in honor of its 20th anniversary.
Tonight a performance of the classical ballet Coppelia will open the celebration, to be followed by a gala fundraising event on December 29. The festive event will begin with a short film by Efrat Rubin tracing the history of the company, followed by a modern dance piece choreographed by Michal Braverman, who received an honorable mention for her choreography in Gvanim Vemahol in 1995.
Next will be the pas de deux from The Nutcracker Suite, choreographed by Yaakov Lipschitz, and then the grand premiere of Amol ist Gevein, that was initially presented in 2004 and has since gone through several changes.
Amol ist Gevein is a multimedia performance reflecting Mielnik's personal origins as the daughter of Holocaust survivors. The video footage revisits her childhood, the apartment she shared with her mother (who lost two small children in the Holocaust) and alcoholic and abusive father. In the background, Mielnik has choreographed successive tableaus, tracing her past and her journey into the present. In one scene, immigrants play cards and drink, in another, a sister accompanies a bride to the mikve.
"We are offering a spectrum from our repertoire," Mielnik told The Jerusalem Post. "Everything from modern to neo-classical and classical."
In addition to the Jerusalem Dance Theater, Mielnik also runs the Jerusalem School of Dance which has branches in Givat Mordechai, French Hill and the German Colony. The school trains professional dancers of all backgrounds and ages, focusing on giving underprivileged children the opportunity to "shoot for excellence."
The Jerusalem Dance Theater will be performing Coppelia on December 28 at 5 p.m. and will be holding its Gala Evening on December 29 at 9 p.m. Both events will be held at the Jerusalem Theater. For reservations, call (02) 560 3755.