By Brogan Gerhart
Avirah, this university’s Israeli dance troupe, offers free Israeli dance sessions to students at Hillel every month.
The sessions are held in the Hillel multipurpose room and participants are encouraged to jump into the dances throughout the sessions that are all taught and led by Avirah members. Everyone from current members to less experienced dancers are welcome to attend.
The first few dances of each session feature more traditional Israeli dancing, which consists mainly of simpler circle dances. Later on, Avirah members begin teaching newer and less commonly practiced line dances.
Maddy Ho, a sophomore finance and computer science major, said that although she’s never tried Israeli dance before, she’d be interested in learning.
“I’m always open to learning new styles of dancing,” Ho said. “My favorite part about dancing is being able to express myself through the music and forget my worries.”
Avirah announces the dates for these monthly sessions on their Facebook page, according to the troupe’s Community Engagement Liaison Aliza Silverman, a senior Jewish studies major. She said that the reason Avirah holds Israeli dance sessions is to get young people more involved in dance and in the community.
“A lot of people ask what Israeli dance is, and it’s really hard to explain sometimes because the culture has been around as long as Israel has been around,” Silverman said. “It’s just easier to show what it is and teach the dance itself than try to explain it.”
European folk dance influences a lot of Israeli dance, Silverman said. The songs are usually in Hebrew or Arabic, but some of the dances are in other languages like Spanish.
Jonah Tash, a freshman computer science major and member of Avirah, has been dancing for two years. Tash started dancing with his high school dance troupe and joined Avirah his first year of college.
“The troupe is really cool,” he said. “It’s a really great community.”
Silverman, who has been dancing with Avirah for four years, said that she thinks if someone wants to give Israeli dance a try, they shouldn’t be afraid of attending one of the open sessions.
“Everyone had to start somewhere,” Silverman said. “I came in with almost no dance experience. I thought I had two left feet, but I just kind of went for it.”
Avirah’s next open dance session has yet to be announced, but they have multiple upcoming performances at DCX New Dances, Terp Thon’s Miracle Kid Talent Show and Hillel Family Weekend Arts Showcase.
“The more you go, the more you’ll learn, and it’s just so much fun so it’s worth looking ridiculous,” Silverman said. “Some of the dances look ridiculous anyway, so you might as well just go for it.”