Riff Cohen & Eliran Amar’s tribal dance

Artists collaborate in the Omanut-o-namut Festival today.

Riff Cohen  (photo credit: IDAN BARAZANI)
Riff Cohen
(photo credit: IDAN BARAZANI)
Singer Riff Cohen, belly dancer Eliran Amar, DJ Atar Mayner and other dancers of note will mark the first Wednesday of 2021 with a rocking tribal dance performance held at the Tel Aviv Art Museum as part of the Omanut-o-namut (Art – or We Will Perish) Festival.
The two-day festival, which began on Tuesday, is meant to offer online streams of some of the best musical and artistic talents the country has to offer. The four shows include Marina Maximilian Blumin, Kamancheh player Mark Eliyahu and dancer Alma Karvat Shemesh.
Cohen, Amar and Mayner have teamed up for the closing act of the festival to explore the rich musical legacy of the orient, including belly dancers Smadar Levcovich, Gili Lev Ari and others. Cohen will also perform songs from her third album, Quelle Heure Est-ll, released this year.
“I first met Amar when he danced in Marrakech,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post. “I was deeply impressed by his technique,” she said, “it verges on tribal dances and is almost like breakdance.” The song selected, included in her 2015 second album A La Menthe, begins with Boccherini’s String Quintet in E major, 3rd movement, before changing into a magnificent blend of rock and Arab-style pop music sung in French.
Merging her native Israeli upbringing, North African legacy and powerful attraction to French culture, Cohen believes she is inspired to seek what is missing in one culture, and introduce it to a solution from another.
“After I gave birth to my sons Pesach and Izzy in 2015 and 2016,” she said, “I learned Ethiopian culture had this great idea of a hut for women who are having their period or are after birth. Women in these huts were provided with food by the whole community.”
She joked that motherhood is “an illegal job, because there’s no limit on how many hours you work at” and pointed to how the Israeli situation of being a melting pot of different cultures seemingly stuck between East and West is also something she saw when she toured in Turkey.
When discussing how the novel coronavirus impacted music, she noted she was able to release her latest album from her living room to an audience of 5,000 people.
“This is just like performing in Caesarea,” she said, “the days of an artist living in a cave and sending out well-crafted songs are over. We are only now starting to see just how important Instagram is.” She added that she would very much like to see live concerts returning to Israel and other places.  
“Culture can’t be a luxury item,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said in the festival’s press release.
Noting the importance the first Hebrew city places on all forms of art, a sector that employs 150,000 people across the country, he said that the festival, held during the COVID-19 pandemic, will help “ease the minds of tens of thousands of residents.”
The performances are part of Omanut-o-namut, a series of hundreds of cultural events arranged by the city of Tel Aviv and offered online in compliance with health requirements during the pandemic.
Online access to view one performance is NIS 65; two shows are NIS 120 and all four are NIS 220. Tel Aviv residents who have the city’s discount card enjoy NIS 45 per one show and NIS 150 for all of them.
For more information, see: http://tarbutona.com