The wonderful thing about feet is that sometimes they have a mind of their own. And at these times, they can take you to some unexpected places. The past few years, I’ve allowed My Two Left Feet to lead the way to some pretty extraordinary experiences with dance – from the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina to the Dance Salad Festival in Houston, Texas to many, many performances in between spanning the country and the globe.
In December 2009, My Two Left Feet brought me to Tel Aviv, Israel for the International Exposure festival – five days of over thirty Israeli contemporary dance companies. My account of the experience can be found here on the site Dance in Israel, one of the primary resources for contemporary dance in the country.
For such a small, embattled country, the amount of – and support for – dance is a bit surprising. Why is there so much innovative dance coming out of this place? And how can it be that most average Israelis are familiar with many of the big-name companies and choreographers?
It’s not just the contemporary dance – Why is the folk dance tradition so vibrant and alive? Most folk dances are relics of the past, maintaining cultural and national memories from centuries ago. Yet Israeli folk dance is constantly evolving and growing – new choreography is created (and officially registered) all the time and teachers travel the globe imparting it to hungry students.
Between the two – the artistic dance of the stage and the common dance of the people – there is something interesting going on here. For a young country that has barely had a moment of peace in its 60+ years of existence, there is a driving energy, a kinesthetic national response that somehow seems to fuel the collective body of the nation and demand a physical outlet.
So that’s what I’ve come here to explore. What can we learn about Israel through the lens of dance? How can we better understand it’s internal workings and its relationships through the way its people move, respond to movement, and create movement?
And what will I learn about myself – as a dancer, as a Jew – in the process?