Israeli Folkdance

Traditional dances find new values.

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Continuity and change also converge at "Teimaniada" dance events. At these gatherings, hundreds of people, young and old, dance one traditional Yemenite step for hours on end. They dance to new, rhythmic beats of contemporary songs inspired by traditional Yemenite music.

Dance Festivals in Israel

When it comes to Israeli folkdance, continuity without change cannot last long. For example, the dance festival in Kibbutz Dalia, founded by Gurit Kadman,  garnered great enthusiasm in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. But this once-vibrant institution was discontinued after 1968; the original kibbutz organizers had grown old, and the values of collectivity the dances conveyed had lost their importance for the next generation. The folkdance conventions in Tzemah, designed to replace the Dalia Festival, were discontinued after 10 years because of an overwhelming sense of stagnation.

In the wake of these failures, the Karmiel Festival emerged momentously in 1988. It was a novelty, a fruitful combination of folk and modern dance. It reflected choreographer Yonatan Karmon's artistic search, and a general outburst of creativity and innovation. Karmon took full advantage of the beautiful Karmiel location and the participation of droves of dancers to create an aesthetic sight, in sync with the Galilee landscape around.

The festival has unique status in Israeli culture. It is a distinct expression of love of Israeli folkdance and identification with the values and symbols they have represented in the past, and still represent to some today. It seeks and showcases dance expressions of Israeli identity, in all its complexity. The festival is a multicultural event that respects the values of its roots and its multi-lingual community--continuity and change at their best.

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Dr. Dan Ronen

Dr. Dan Ronen is one of Israel's leading theatre scholars, with experience teaching, researching, writing, and directing Jewish theatre in Israel and abroad.