Shalom Life | July 29, 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
Eva Green to Star in Upcoming Tim Burton Film Eva Green to Star in Upcoming Tim Burton Film TrendingSeth Rogen Chugs Beer From The Stanley Cup [VIDEO] Seth Rogen Chugs Beer From The Stanley Cup [VIDEO] TrendingOne Direction’s Zayn Malik Receives Death Threats After Tweeting #FreePalestine One Direction’s Zayn Malik Receives Death Threats After Tweeting #FreePalestine Trending
 

Larry David to Sit Down With David Steinberg For Rare Comedy Event

July 29, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Larry David to Sit Down With David Steinberg For Rare Comedy Event

The 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' creator is joining Steinberg for an exclusive events for Citi card members in Los Angeles.

Read More

Andrew Lloyd Webber is Suing Michael Cohl

July 29, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Andrew Lloyd Webber is Suing Michael Cohl

The 'Jesus Christ Superstar' composer is suing the Canadian producer

Read More

The Love Jewce: Why Ron Dermer and other NJB’s are Freaking Sexy

July 29, 2014 | By Andria Kaplan
The Love Jewce: Why Ron Dermer and other NJB’s are Freaking Sexy

A look at those "sexy Jewish men" who are making it known that they support Israel

Read More

New Zealand Cover Story Mistakes Jackass' Ryan Dunn for Slain IDF Soldier

July 29, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
New Zealand Cover Story Mistakes Jackass' Ryan Dunn for Slain IDF Soldier

The New Zealand Herald ran a cover story about late IDF Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland, but didn't use the right photo

Read More

Will Rising European anti-Semitism Lead to a 'New' Holocaust?

July 29, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Will Rising European anti-Semitism Lead to a 'New' Holocaust?

European, Israeli leaders hold emergency session after "rising wave of violent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel demonstrations sweeping Europe"

Read More

An Interview with Umami Burger Creator Adam Fleischman

July 29, 2014 | By Peter Herriman
An Interview with Umami Burger Creator Adam Fleischman

We speak to the renowned chef and owner of the growing restaurant chain about burgers, chocolate fried chicken, and how he comes up with his unique recipes

Read More

American Rabbi Becomes First Non-Christian to Serve as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom

July 29, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
American Rabbi Becomes First Non-Christian to Serve as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom

Rabbi David Saperstein, head of the Religious Action Center, will work towards establishing international religious freedom

Read More

Ten Ways Israelis Cope with Stress Under Fire

July 29, 2014 | By Viva Sarah Press
Ten Ways Israelis Cope with Stress Under Fire

Despite tension and worry, Israelis use their creativity and out-of-the-box thinking not only to endure the trauma but to rise above it

Read More

More Headlines