Footloose in the Holy Land

Dorothy Eisdorfer: “I think I could really inspire a lot of people to step out of their shell and change their life through dance.”

(photo credit: GUY EISDORFER)
Dorothy (“Do”) Eisdorfer met her husband, Guy, at a salsa club near Tel Aviv University in 2001. Guy, then an IDF officer, caught the eye of this lively tourist from the United States who was visiting her brother in Israel.
“I was dancing around him and he was kind of holding still. I was like a tornado – I think he didn’t know what hit him,” she recalls with a laugh. “It was definitely love at first sight.”
Really, there could not have been a more appropriate setting for Eisdorfer to be “kidnapped” by the man of her dreams. Dance defines and permeates her life.
“My mom would say I’ve been dancing since I was in utero. I started taking lessons when I was six years old,” she says. She is trained in classical ballet, theatrical jazz, modern, ballroom and Latin dance.
“Dance has always been my home, no matter where I have lived in my life. When I am dancing and immersed in the world of dance, I am home.”
Eisdorfer has been teaching dance to kids at Walworth Barbour American International School in Even Yehuda since making aliya in 2012. About a year and a half ago, in response to many requests to teach women, she founded DanceFit and presently teaches in the Sharon area.
Her students “burn the floor” with a wide variety of energetic dance forms – cha-cha, salsa, merengue, mambo, twist, jive, foxtrot, waltz, rumba, bachata, tango, swing, Paso Doble, Charleston, samba and others.
“I created DanceFit to encourage and enable women regardless of age, ability or prior experience the opportunity to learn to dance and to experience the joy and elation that dance brings,” she explains.
“Dance embodies all that is feminine: strength, sensuality, poise, grace and empowerment. When we learn to dance and master each movement, we start to become more and more comfortable and secure in ourselves and this confidence transcends to life.”
She instructs her DanceFit students to leave their insecurities and self-consciousness at home.
“When they step into my classes or workshops, I tell them to feel as if they are the most beautiful dancer in the room and they must embrace it and let this feeling of effervescence shine out of them until they, too, believe it. After a while, the incredible effect of dance has ignited the fire and light within that woman that perhaps had been dim for some time. A new woman emerges out of dance – one who no longer seeks the approval of others. She knows who she is, and once a woman knows her worth there is no going back!”
She teaches in English. “It’s a very international group. I have women from France, South America, Germany, England, the United States and Israelis, too. It shows you how dance breaks down all cultural and religious barriers and that’s what I love so much about it. It’s an amazing energy.”
Eisdorfer says she can see the transformation in her students before her very eyes.
“I have a few women in their mid-50s to late 60s who never danced before and now they say it’s become an important part of their lives. Many say it improves their mood and posture, and it’s very good for osteoporosis because it’s a weight-bearing exercise. It’s great after pregnancy, too. Dance rejuvenates you mentally and physically.”
In addition to these high-energy classes geared to any age and body type, she offers Flamenco, NYBalletFlo and other dance workshops for women’s organizations and even high-tech companies.
Not surprisingly, her nine- and two-year-old sons are enthusiastic and talented dancers.
“I highly encourage boys to dance. It gives them a lot of confidence and poise and they have to learn to cooperate as well as learn to respect their female classmates! I do a lot of choreography with the kids at the International School. It’s great for creativity and divergent thinking. It takes children away from their gadgets and gives them another form of communication.”
Eisdorfer grew up in a musical family in Long Island, New York. She remembers her parents watching Hello Jerusalem in the 1980s and describes her upbringing as Zionist but not religious. Her parents and brother preceded her to Israel.
After she and Guy married in New York in 2003, they lived in the US for nearly a decade.
“After we had our first son I realized I wanted to live in Israel. I felt it was the best place to raise kids,” she says. “There was a strange magnetic force pulling us back.”
They live in Ra’anana not far from her mother, Loretta Weinberger, her role model. Weinberger, a composer who writes under the pen name Loretta Kay-Feld, wrote many songs for Sesame Street and other Children’s Television Workshop TV shows. Her composition “Gonna Keep America Singing” was performed at the 2013 Fourth of July party at the US ambassador’s residence in Israel and was played by the United States Marine Band at a parade in Washington preceding President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
“My mom is one of the most talented and imaginative women I have ever known,” says Eisdorfer. “She always encouraged us to be creative and inspired us to be true to ourselves. I try to convey that in all of my endeavors.”
After six years as an Israeli citizen, she says she has come to appreciate the “tremendous energy” and “room for creativity” in the country. “You have to be very innovative here and I like that.”
Though she wishes Israelis showed more respect, consideration and savlanut (patience), she says, “I like the informality of things. It’s a very social country.”
Eisdorfer is working on a documentary on the positive effects of dance. She is gathering testimonials and closely following worldwide research on the constructive and therapeutic aspects of dance for physical and mental well-being.
“I think I could really inspire a lot of people to step out of their shell and change their life through dance,” she says.