Israeli Folk Dance Workshop

Literally translated as “dances of the people,” Israeli folk dance / Rikudei Am / םריקודי ע  was conceived of by secular Zionist European Jews who moved to Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century to build a socialist Jewish society.  In the effort to create a utopian culture, they choreographed dances that were designed to unite the Jewish people, bring them joy, and inspire a sense of historically grounded belonging. Much like Jewish culture itself, Israeli folk dancing is a collage of steps and gestures taken from European, Middle Eastern, North African, and Palestinian sources.

In this workshop, we will learn both traditional and contemporary Israeli folk dances, explore our relationship to this embodied language, and create an Israeli folk dance of our own. If you would like to teach an Israeli dance that you know and love, please bring the song and be prepared to demonstrate the steps. This workshop is open to all levels, no prior dance experience of any kind is necessary, and children are welcome to attend if they are able to participate.

Eugenia Manwelyan is a New York based director / choreographer, educator, and urban planner. She is the co-founder of Eco Practicum desk-free school for arts and ecology, member of Best Praxis art collective, and a founding faculty of School of Apocalypse. She is currently working with the Sullivan County Land Bank to leverage the arts and housing toward regional economic development in the Catskills. Her work is rooted in radical self-determination, social choreography, and the connections between creative practice and survival. As a visiting faculty at Columbia University, Eugenia has worked on environmental planning and arts projects in the New York bio-region as well as India, Vietnam, and Jordan. Eugenia spearheaded a youth theater and peace-building project in Israel and Palestine that is now in its tenth year. She holds a BA in International Development from McGill University and her MS in Urban Planning from Columbia University.