Tapping the community mix

Two shows in the coming week: combining members from Ra’anana’s Dance Center and a choir from Dimona’s Hebrew Israelite community.

dancing 521 (photo credit: Yael Bronner)
dancing 521
(photo credit: Yael Bronner)
This Monday, Ra’anana’s Yad Labanim center will host a couple of performances that feature a unique artistic confluence. Members of the Kivun Acher (Different Direction) workshop from the municipality-backed Ra’anana Dance Center will be joining forces with the Bnei Or Choir from Dimona’s Hebrew Israelite community.
The two shows (6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) promise to provide audiences with far more than just the sum of their very different parts. There will also be a prestigious contribution by world-famous tap dancer Sharon Lavi, who is based in Spain.
The Ra’anana Dance Center aims to encourage artistic excellence and social awareness, and the Kivun Acher workshop’s stated philosophy is to focus on the artist’s contribution to the society in which he or she works, highlighting the integration between different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The members of the Bnei Or Choir live as part of a collective with a rich and creative cultural lifestyle. The Israeli-born choir members are aged 13 to 18 and bring the spirit of their parents’ musical heritage to the stage. The choir’s repertoire includes popular Israeli songs, Jewish music, contemporary soul and original compositions.
Ra’anana Dance Center director Zvia Brumer is a firm believer in the synthesis ethos.
“I come from South Africa, so I know something about different communities living in the same place,” says Brumer. “I was aware of the prejudices and fears people have from others who are different.
“As a black American, Amikam also knows about that, so it felt natural for me to work with him.”
The American-born artist in question is Amikam Ben-Asiel from Dimona, whom Brumer first encountered last year when she helped put on a show called “Some Kind of Spirit.” The Hebrew Israelites were involved in the production, and Ben-Asiel was the lead actor.
“I discovered he had a very strong history on stage, and he was also a student counselor,” Brumer continues. “I suggested to him that we get students to work through the arts, on respect between different cultures. It proved to be a smooth, flowing joint venture.
“Amikam also ran a choir, and he invited me to one of the choir’s performances, in January 2010, in Dimona.
“I knew I had found the right partner. When we brought my workshop together with the choir, it took about 10 minutes to find a common language.”
In fact, Brumer had set out on the inter-community road some time before.
“About four years ago, I started studying a method called ‘deep democracy.’ You learn about conflict resolution and dialogue and taking joint decisions, and I realized this would be good to bring into my studio work.”
Brumer’s initial foray was enhanced by a study trip to her country of birth.
“I was in South Africa at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch, where I attended a lecture. I suddenly had this idea of working with different communities based on the same concept.
I thought about teaching students to respect others, that you don’t have to be like them, and that you can learn from each other.”
Brumer says the concept was new to this part of the world.
“Sustainability was not talked about here back then, and I had to look for the right partners. Then, about a year ago, the Ra’anana municipality started talking about sustainability – that was green, environmental stuff. But then I realized I could address the social side of sustainability through the workshop.”
MONDAY’S PERFORMANCES will offer the audiences a glimpse of a range of worlds and disciplines.
“We have classical, modern, tap and jazz styles of dance in the show,” Brumer explains. “We have original songs from the Dimona community, including one song called “Moladeti” (My Homeland), and there will be a spiritual.
“It’s a fusion of lots of things – some will be performed just by the workshop, some just by the choir, and others with all of us involved. Anyway,” she says, “they are a sort of dancing ensemble, even though they only consider themselves a choir.”
Brumer is also very happy about Lavi’s contribution.
“Sharon was a student at the studio, and later a teacher. It’s important that he comes from the same framework. He was very excited when he heard about the project. He’s really bigtime now, and he adds another dimension to the whole production.”
Lavi certainly is “big-time.” Before leaving these shores for more expansive pastures in Spain, he ran the Ra’anana Dance Center’s tap dancing department and was the country’s first tap dancer to receive the title of Outstanding Dancer from the IDF.
He relocated to Spain after being given the lead in Barcelona’s famed Camut Band and founded the cultural crossover Tapeplas troupe together with musician Yaron Engler.
The current project is not Brumer’s first artistic encounter with the Black Hebrews.
“About 25 years ago, I worked with a tap dancer called Iskiyahu from the black community. Then, too, it felt natural for me to work with people from the community. They have a very high artistic ability.”
Brumer hopes the current production will spawn more synergies between members of different communities here, and is evidently thrilled with the ways things have gone thus far.
“This is not a new idea, but I think we are taking it to a different level. When you work with your cultural and other baggage, with other people who bring their own baggage, it allows you to grow as an artist, just as you are.
“I have never been so happy in my work,” she smiles. “There is such great energy between everyone.”
Tickets and more information: 09-7610598