The Dances Are For Us
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“The Dances are for Us emerges as a compelling form of self-assessment of how our very movements through the world can be inextricably linked to oppression and colonization.”
— Owen Duffy, Performa Magazine
“As we know, history is defined by who tells it. Victims and villains shift depending on proximity. Accessible and legible, The Dances are For Us offers consideration and reconciliation that feels timely, important, and smart.”
— Melanie Greene, Dance Enthusiast
The Dances Are for Us premiered at Danspace Project May 31-June 1.
Through this work I have been espousing a radical diasporism. Radical diasporism believes, counter to Zionism, that Jews don’t belong only in Israel, but rather that we belong, in our multiplicity, in radical solidarity with people wherever we find our home. Our embodiment of this idea and not just Zionist critique has been a gift of moving through the process of this work. My collaborators and I- Autumn Leonard, Jules Skloot, Oren Barnoy, Mor Mendel, Raha Behnam, Rosza Daniel Lang/Levitsky, Zavé Martohardjono, Avi Amon, Gil Sperling, Amir Farjoun, and Carol Mullins- emerged from the work feeling lighter.
Our work will soon become more concrete and shareable through a forthcoming Zine with transcripts of performance texts and process conversations with collaborators: an EP of original music by Avi and myself will be realized with the Zine, also featuring Zavé and Raha. For this, I am beyond grateful to have received a New Music USA grant to support these recordings and furthering the reach of our work. Zionists wielded the power of culture to spread connection to Israel. Now we are wielding this power to challenge Zionism.
Thank you for supporting our work.
The Dances are for Us continues choreographer, performer, and educator Hadar Ahuvia’s break from a Zionist cultural legacy by examining the construction of Israeli folk dance. While returning to the sounds, images, and mythologies surrounding the Jezreel Valley/ Marj Ibn Amer where her grandparents settled and where the folk dances emerged, the work is grounded here in the U.S., where the dances are practiced by folklorists, Zionists, Jews and Christians alike, and continue to be exported by Christian Zionists.
Israeli dances primarily serve Jews who pass as white in the U.S. construct and who, in Israel, have come to define whiteness. Thus, the work seeks repair for Ashkenazi Jews and American Zionists in their relationship to Israel/Palestine. It proposes a way of breaking the cycles of transmission, appropriation, and theft- across vast plains of ideological manifestations and technological advancements- that have present-day consequences for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.
Working with a group of collaborators with various relationships to Zionism, Israeli folk dance, and other classical and folk traditions, The Dances are for Us investigates the instrumentalization of culture by nation-states. Through the work, we model accountability to our own heritage, histories, and to each other.
Composer Avi Amon explores his Turkish Jewish identity and contends with structures that forced the loss of memory, place, languages and lineage. He fuses various compositional styles – musical theater, sound sculpture, and chamber music into musical experiences that examine the embodiment of disparate and conflicting histories.
Drawing on a mutual interest in the reconstruction of Jewish traditions, Amon will join the creative team for The Dances are For Us, as composer and sound designer, to examine the music created for Israeli dances. These discrete compositions, created by Ashkenazi composers in tandem with folk dance choreographers also relied on improvisational Arab tropes to legitimize their authenticity and secure their Israeli authorship. Examining these synchronized maneuvers, Amon and Ahuvia will collaborate on fracturing the melodies, steps, and lyrics of three folk dances to create vocal compositions performed live by the dancers that train the audience’s eyes to see the subversion of the migrant laborers, of Mizrahim, of Palestinians, of diasporic Jewish histories within the codified dances.
These compositions will also be recorded in an album that will be sold to fundraise and further the ideas of cultural change advocated in the work.
INSHALLAH/MASHALLAH is an evening-length work blending elements of opera, musical theater, and sound installation to sonically dismantle and rebuild all seven voyages from the classic Sindbad tales in One Thousand and One Nights. INSHALLAH/MASHALLAH was developed as part of Target Margin Theater’s 2018 Sindbad Lab. In this excerpt called “Memory and Slavery”, Amon uses voice, keyboard, percussion, electronics, and found sound to wrestles with the patriarchy and enslavement in stories formative to his Turkish Jewish culture.
In Joy Vey, I confront my Zionist legacy by rearranging beloved Israeli folk songs and dances to face the Nakba. (Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, refers to the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 as a result of the founding of the state of Israel).
I thank my parents and grandparents for reimagining Jewish ritual and inspiring me to do the same.
Concept, performance, costume design, musical arrangement, translation, and original text by Hadar Ahuvia
Ve’ulai (And Maybe)
lyrics: Rahel ּּBluwstein
melody: Yehuda Sharet
Start and End Dates
05/30/2019 — 06/01/2019
New York, New York