Shalom Life | September 22, 2014

American Dancer Finds Her Place on Israeli Stage

Florida Native Kicks Up Her Heels in Jewish State

By: Josh Berkman

Published: January 12th, 2012 in Culture » Stage » News

American Dancer Finds Her Place on Israeli Stage

As a performer for two years with the world-renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Brittany Adams has danced at some of the world’s most famous venues. But she never truly felt at home on the stage until she performed in Israel.

Adams enrolled in a workshop with Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company following her final touring season with Ailey. She was so moved by the experience that she realized dancing would never be the same unless she made Aliyah and immersed herself in the study of Israel’s new contemporary gaga form, developed by Batsheva’s Ohad Naharim—one of the world’s leading modern choreographers.

But Brittany’s story is not merely about finding a new dance form as much as it is discovering her Jewish soul through gaga, an Israeli form of improvisational art that emphasizes undivided attentiveness to all five senses and incorporating the heightened sensory awareness into physical and artistic expression.

Gaga is a style that constantly moves and builds as the dancer explores how the senses influence movement,” Brittany says. “It is more elevated and doesn’t feel like work.”

In recent months, there have been several examples of well-known Jewish athletes making Aliyah as well as the growing trend of high-tech entrepreneurs finding a path to their dreams in Israel. In these athletes’ cases, there is the opportunity to play at an elite professional level; in the entrepreneurs’ case, Israel is Start-Up Nation. And in Brittany’s case, there is the opportunity to explore a new form of art that she says feels like it was ‘created for her.’ But in each example, it seems, there is a deeper pull.

Why didn’t Jon Scheyer choose to play basketball in Spain?

Why aren’t Jewish tech whizzes flocking to India or Singapore?

Could an improvisational and deeply soulful form of modern dance have developed elsewhere with such a visceral appeal to a world-class dancer in the beginning stages of connecting with her Jewish heritage?

“When young Jews travel to Israel, whether it’s for a Masa trip or internship, a professional dance workshop, or to play basketball, a spark is almost always lit,” says Barry Spielman, the Jewish Agency’s director of communications for North America. “These sparks not only establish the foundation of Aliyah by choice, but they create connections that reach the many Jewish friends, family members, business associates and even fans of these young Jews—we’re talking about a ripple effect that is critical in sustaining a vibrant and global Jewish future.”

Brittany, who made Aliyah on a group flight from Newark earlier this month, has family in Israel. An uncle was chancellor of Bar Ilan University and she has numerous cousins on Kibbutz Ketura. But she did not grow up immersed in Jewish life. She is bi-racial and says she always felt self conscious in Jewish settings. Nevertheless she remained curious and read many of the Jewish books her mother kept in the house.

“I was always interested in this side of me,” Brittany says.

Brittany began to participate in the Jewish community of South Florida after her grandmother passed away and her mother took she and her sister to a Purim celebration at the Chabad House of West Palm Beach. Following that experience, Brittany began to celebrate Shabbat with Chabad and babysit the Rabbi’s children. Two summers ago, she visited Israel for the first time to see family and the idea of attending Naharim’s gaga workshop the following year became real.

In Israel, Brittany plans to participate in another gaga workshop with Naharim and formally audition for Batsheva in March. She describes her style as a “harmonious paradox of power and ease” and will audition for spots in other Israeli companies if things do not work out with Batasheva.

“I decided (after the workshop) that Israel was a place where I needed to live and dance,” Brittany says. “I’ve danced around the world, but Tel Aviv was a whole different experience of being connected—it was dancing on a different level.”

http://www.jafi.org.il/JewishAgency/images/pix.gif
This article has been re-posted with permission from http://www.jafi.org.il
The Ten Best Deli's in North America The Ten Best Deli's in North America TrendingRobert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards TrendingJames Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character Trending
 

The Ten Best Deli's in North America

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Ten Best Deli's in North America

Got a hankering for a smoked meat sandwich? Look no further

Read More

New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Harmful For Diabetics

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Harmful For Diabetics

A new study From Israel cautions diabetics to think twice about sugar substitutes

Read More

Daniel Radcliffe Repays His Debt to Irish Football Team Two Years Later

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Daniel Radcliffe Repays His Debt to Irish Football Team Two Years Later

'The F Word' star paid back the cab fare he borrowed while partying with the team.

Read More

Seth Rogen Teams Up With Adam McKay and Ben Schwartz For New Film

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Seth Rogen Teams Up With Adam McKay and Ben Schwartz For New Film

The 'This Is The End' star will also be producing.

Read More

Joan Rivers Writes Forward For New Jewish Cookbook

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Joan Rivers Writes Forward For New Jewish Cookbook

The comedian contributed some Jewish jokes and sentiments for 'Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food'

Read More

Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards

The 'Iron Man' star will be joined by Mark Ruffalo, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, and others

Read More

James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character

The actor thinks that he's very similar to the corn-rowed, gun-toting character from Harmony Korine's film.

Read More

Jamie Geller And Tom Franz Explore The Bible’s Superfoods

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Jamie Geller And Tom Franz Explore The Bible’s Superfoods

Two of Israel's most renown Kosher chefs explore biblical foods in the City of David

Read More

More Headlines