Night at the library

The all-female Nehara Dance Group explores the relationship between writing, text and Judaism in "Draft."

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
July 28, 2015 21:04
3 minute read.
NEHARA DANCE GROUP

NEHARA DANCE GROUP. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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There are certain spaces that we only enter at certain times of the day. To see a nightclub in daylight is truly frightening. To roam through a shopping mall in the dead of night would be awfully odd. This week, the Jerusalem Season of Culture is inviting us to Night Story, an event which will allow audiences a rare glance at a familiar space: the library.

The program is part of a larger initiative, called the In House Festival, in which artists and audiences will meet in Jerusalem homes. Night Story will take place on Wednesday and Thursday night.

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“Night Story is an event that brings together a bunch of different types of performance in the library of the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem. The audience will wander around and see storytellers, musicians and us,” says Daniella Bloch over the phone. The founder and artistic director of the all-female Nehara Dance Group, Bloch is thrilled to present her company via this platform.

Born and raised in New York City, Bloch began her career at the Bat Dor Dance Company, where she spent five years working with a number of leading choreographers.

Not long after leaving the company Bloch returned to New York, where she continued to dance with the Nai Ni Chen Dance Company.

Throughout her time working with professional companies, Bloch felt a rift growing between her career and her religious values.

Performances on Friday night were a given and holidays were spent in the studio as opposed to at home or in the synagogue.



After relocating to Israel, Bloch decided to create an environment that would put this discomfort to rest. In 2011, she founded Nehara Dance Group as a home for observant Jewish professional dancers.

An established ballet teacher, Bloch opts to stick to instruction and leave choreography to others.

“I don’t have that drive and I don’t have the talent. I bring in choreographers to create work for Nehara,” she explains.

Since founding the company, Bloch has given birth to two boys.

When we spoke, she was busy preparing food for Shabbat while her little ones played in the background.

Juggling childcare and the responsibilities of the company is often overwhelming, however, Bloch is not willing to compromise on either.

“My mother raised six children in New York City while running a business. That’s what I grew up with and it’s the example of a woman that I want to give my children, of a mother who is also doing her own thing. Work is important.

Family is important and even though it’s a lot, the two can exist together.”

To Night Story, Nehara Dance Group will bring Draft, a particularly fitting piece for the festival.

Choreographed by Rachel Erdos, the work looks at the connection between Judaism and text. The five performers of the piece weave in and out of stacks of books, gliding on errant pages and propelling paper airplanes overhead.

“The piece is so great for this event and it has been really nice adapting it to fit the library space,” says Bloch.

The original work stands at just under an hour. For this event Nehara will present a 15-minute excerpt.

“We’ve really enjoyed going back to the work and playing around with it.”

The dancers will perform the selected bits in a loop, affording audiences the chance to see them from several vantage points.

Night Story is part of what Bloch refers to as the company’s “mini Israel tour.” In addition to performing in Jerusalem, Nehara traveled to the north to participate in the annual Karmiel Festival earlier this week.

In the coming weeks, Bloch will kick off a fundraising campaign to make a new work for Nehara possible. As a relatively new company, Nehara’s annual budget is comprised predominately of private donations.

“We are hoping to raise funds now to make a new work, to bring a new artist into our little family and to give the dancers a new challenge.

We have also been invited to perform in Uruguay come fall, so that is another big step that the company will hopefully take in the near future.”

Nehara Dance Group will perform in the In House Festival on July 29 and 30. For more information, visit www.jerusalemseason.com.

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