Avirah, the Israeli dance company at this university, hosted an unprecedented spring audition on Feb. 9 at STAMP Student Union, welcoming a new member to the group.
Matthew Kaminow, a senior material science and engineering major, decided to audition when he heard that Avirah was searching for new members for the second half of the year.
Before auditioning, Kaminow said he had always been friends with a couple of the members. He’d always had admiration for the group, but didn’t have an interest in performing in front of crowds. The pandemic’s restrictions, which created an almost entirely virtual experience, have allowed Kaminow to feel more comfortable getting to know everyone and sharing his dances with them.
“[President Deborah Brown] had us run through a couple of steps of a particular dance…. This year everything is online, we [were] recording them and sending them out,” Kaminow said when talking about his audition. “It went really, really great.”
Kaminow immediately felt very welcomed, calling Brown, who also works as a copy editor for Mitzpeh, “one of the most amazing people on this campus.” He said he feels like he made the right choice by joining a group that treats everyone like their own family.
When it comes to recruiting, Avirah welcomes all dancers, even those who don’t have any experience. The dance group strives to find the most diverse people and unify them through Israeli dance.
With COVID-19 interfering with in-person recruitment and having to do all events virtually, attracting new members has been a challenge for the group.
Paulina Leder, a sophomore history and French major, recalled how she got interested in Avirah at the First Look Fair.
“I remember the table was set up, there were multiple people there that I could talk to and ask questions about. It was definitely better advertised,” she said.
Elaine Berger, a freshman Jewish studies major, is the internal relations chair for Avirah. She is a part of the executive board and always looks for ways to improve Avirah’s social circle.
“Especially during COVID, people are unsure about a lot of things. It’s been a little challenging finding people interested,” she said.
Berger and Leder, the only underclassmen within the group, both feel an urgency to recruit new members.
Although Avirah doesn’t usually hold their auditions during the spring semester, they changed things up in an effort to expand amid the pandemic.
The group has no intentions of hosting spring auditions in the future, according Aliza Mintz, a junior information science major and artistic director for Avirah. Avirah will go back to their normal schedule of having fall auditions and welcoming any new dancers.
Avirah’s Facebook and Instagram (@AvirahUMD) are updated with all their upcoming events. Avirah’s annual End-of-Year Showcase will take place on May 2 at 4 p.m.