The Cherry Hill Israeli Dancers

Present The Abrams Residence Presentation Of April 10, 2011

Well, folks, it was about time for the next Cherry Hill field trip although this time somewhat further north than normal. The presentation occurred in Ewing, New Jersey, just outside of Trenton, the capital of the state. The weather kicked in as usual, or as what has become usual, with a relatively hot day following the very cold day of the previous field trip to Brendenwood.

We understand that the location was recommended by Darcy whose Mother, Landi, pictured to the ]d with a friend and a caregiver, is a resident. So, Landi was an audience member and at dinner afterward indicated how pleased she was that all of the dancers could make it for the presentation that afternoon.

Let's take a moment and discuss the facility, pictures of which are at the top of the montage to the ]d. The Abrams residence is a part of the Greenwood House retirement community. Abrams is the assisted living portion of this facility. It is proximinate to a larger building, the Greenwood house, but as you can see from the upper pictures, it stands alone. It has its own lobby and adjoining dining room and salon and it was in the salon, as you will see in pictures below, that the performance took place.@We've indicated in prior scripts the respect, if not admiration, we have for the dancers that we will see in these pictures. This is all voluntary with many of the dancers coming quite a distance to perform as indicated in the map (and especially the red lines) below to the ]d. They do it because they enjoy Israeli dancing and also for the opportunity to spread some cheer and good will. As you will see, the Abrams Residence more than reciprocated in kind.

To insure a good turnout, for a few days before the performance the administration of the Abrams Residence, led by Laurina Kuligowski, publicized the event within the facility. Excitement about the performance was growing due to this publicity to the point that several friends of Abram's residents made sure that they would be there that day. To the ]d is some examples of the posters and placards that abetted this publicity.

As indicated to the group, the Cherry Hill dancers were expected to arrive by 2:30PM and most were able to meet this deadline. The pictures to the ]d are of some of the members as they arrived and waited for the performance. Naomi's arrival always involves equipment to be used during the performance and we can see her in one of the pictures putting together the computer and sound system.

As the dancers amass, so does the audience. The pictures to the ]d show the residents and several visitors taking their seats in anticipation of the performance. This web site has on previous occasions discussed the gender distribution of these audiences in what one might consider a more feminine interest - dance. One has to consider the 3 to 5:1 ratio of women to men in these locations. Yet, the Cherry Hill field trips, as we pan the audience on these trips (although it will not be readily apparent to the viewer in the pictures to the ]d), seems to be of interest to both sexes which says a lot of Naomi and her dancers that they have created a performance welcomed and enjoyed by all. Abrams House was no exception as the gender ratio of residents was approximated by the gender ratio of the audience

As Naomi puts her equipment together, we focus on another integral part of the Cherry Hill Field Trip, the work of the artists Alison and Andrew. Unfortunately, Andrew could not make it this day but Alison brought the results of their artwork to this day's performance. Of course, we are talking about the programs that accompany the performance. The artist(s) even take the time to hand deliver these programs to members of the audience not to mention members of the troupe. The pictures to the ]d show this in operation. And, it also shows how these programs are received by the audience as you can see several studying the information that they have been given.

Before we continue, we should add a word about the programs mentioned above that have been a part of the Cherry Hill Field Trips since 2009. These are the creations of the artists, Alison and Andrew, and below we have the example used for this performance. We have combined this with links to videos for these dances if there is such an interest. Notice that 12 dances were performed this afternoon and it breaks down into 9 circle dances, 2 line dances and one partner dance.

Welcome to a performance by:

Bringing you the music
and dance of traditional
and modern Israel

Abrams Residence, April 10, 2011

We Will Perform These dances

  1. Od Lo Ahavti Dai
  2. Bou Nashir L'eretz Yaffa
  3. Shalom Alainu
  4. Meohav Ad Hashamayim
  5. Tza'ana
  6. Liya
  1. Banu Leha'ir Et Ha'ir
  2. Hamalach Hagoel Oti
  3. Neshika Turkit
  4. Hineh Ma Tov
  5. Ilu Tzipporim
  6. Kol Hakoach

We hope you enjoy them!

By Andrew, Age 5
As the audience is being seated and with the equipment up and ready for use, Naomi, as she always does, calls the group together as she deals with her final instructions before the presentation begins. Several things are on her list. We didn't hear it all but we think the list below summarizes her discussion in the following bullets
  • Smile, Smile, Smile
  • Those not knowing a dance should move to the side and take pictures
  • Keep dance movements small and in line with proximinate dancers
  • Smile, Smile, Smile
In addition, she quickly reviews the dances so that everyone is on the same wavelength. The pictures to the ]d show this huddle and subsequent breakup.

After the huddle, it's time for the performance. Those who have seen the scripts of previous performances know that Naomi introduces each dance with a small explanation of the meaning of the lyrics. Additionally, some dances will require audience participation and on those dances Naomi takes the time to prep the audience. The pictures to the ]d show Naomi introducing the first dance, Od Lo Ahavti Dai, a longtime favorite of the Israeli dancing community.

This web site always has an interest in the audience reaction to Naomi's intros. Generally, you can hear a pin drop. Surely, anybody in education can appreciate this. We all wish that all classes could have this amount of attention. It's difficult generally with photographs to convey this but the Abrams residence had a layout that allowed us to concentrate on this.To the ]d are two pictures taken during Naomi's prep of Od Lo Ahavti Dai. You can see the attention that the audience is giving her. It's almost as if some of these residents are hanging on every word. It says a lot about the presenter that she can command this attention and we are happy to be able to document this for you.

We believe these are pictures of the first dance, Od Lo Ahavti Dai, taken primarily with Darcy's camera. When running through the dances in the huddle, Naomi has reminded the group to turn to the audience at the beginning of the third go-around and you see this taking place in the bottom pictures to the ]d. This is not how this is normally danced but this is one of the ways she tries to include the audience in the performance.@Below, we will concentrate on two other dances where she uses arm movements to also include the audience in the performance. In this dance however, the simple movement of 180 degrees to face the audience as opposed to facing the circle starts the process of having the audience feel a part of the performance.

As you saw above in the program by the artists, Alison and Andrew, 12 dances were performed during the performance. The first eight were what in Israeli dance is categorized as circle dances where the participants make a circle and generally travel counter clockwise or clockwise. We have already seen pictures of the first dance, Od Lo Ahavti Dai. The next seven circle dances were a combination of both old and new favorites having been selected by vote by those participating. @Except for one of these circles, S'ana, which we will discuss below, it is difficult in stills (as you see to the ]d) to break down the specific movements of any specific circle dance, so we present this montage of pictures that were taken by several cameras. We can hone in on whether the dancers followed Naomi's instructions during the huddle prior to the performance@We do see plenty of smiles but, to be fair, those not smiling may be concentrating on the steps and their balance given the limited area for dancing not to mention the presence of a rug on the floor. There may be one person who refuses to smile but, after all, he does participate and volunteer and he may have been tired as this was the 2nd of 3 events he would participate in that day.@Its pretty clear that all the dancers followed Naomi's instruction as to the tightness and proximity while dancing as the dancers are for the most part lined up as we would expect.@One thing is clear by these pictures. Israeli dancers like to dance and like their music. There was good feeling in doing these dances and the feeling no doubt was enhanced by the fact that they were performing for a very receptive audience.

If you mention the sequence "up, down, clap, snap" to an Israeli dancer, the dance S'ana (there are various variant spellings to this) representing the main city (sometimes the capital) of Yemen, comes to mind. This dance, done to a Yememite folk theme, was choreographed in 1995 by Mosheko Halevy and is a favorite dance both at the Cherry Hill dance sessions on Tuesday and as part of the repertoire of the Cherry Hill field trips.@Naomi encourages the participation of the audience by preping them before the dance in collaborating with the dancers in doing these movements. Due to our lateness in readying our camera, not seen is the initial prep where Naomi and the surrounding dancers go through these movements. We did catch the last practice where she alone shows this hand sequence and on the ]d you see 4 shots representing up, down, clap and snap.

This web site have been covering the Cherry Hill field trips for some 3 years but we never get tired of watching the audience participation for several of the dances including the aforementioned S'ana. Male and female, old and older, the residents always respond enthusiastically at the appropriate times during these dance. In fact, "Up, down, clap and snap" is the chant as they mimic the dancers as you can see in the photos to the ]d.@Of more importance is trying to gauge the benefit of this exercise. We are told that dancing with its synchonization of feet, hands and mind is a way of stalling the ravages of age. The neurons and the synapses that promote these nerve responses do better with the continual stimulation that dancing affords. But what if you are not mobile as is many of the residents of the Abrams House. Apparently, most experts believe that this stimulation is beneficial even if only the hands are involved.@Whether beneficial or not, the Abrams residents act no different than any of the other audiences documented on these Cherry Hill field trips: most respond and contribute to the up, down, clap and snap of the second part of S'ana.

The first line dance, like S'ana described above, involves a lot of hand motion. This dance, Neshika Turkit, which translates from Turkish into Turkish Kiss, is a favorite Israeli line dance. And, like S'ana, Naomi and her group prep the audience for their participation in this dance's exaggerated hand and arm motion. To the ]d we see some aspects of this prep. Two of the pictures of the bottom row show a dancer's view of the audience as they follow these arm and hand movements.

If the prep for Turkish kiss is underway in the above pictures, the performance of Turkish Kiss must be forthcoming and the pictures to the ]d show the dancers in action as this music is played. Sung by Tarkan Tevetoglu, who apparently is a musical icon in his native land, this line dance was choreographed by Meir Shem Tov in 1997. The music just drives you to dance it. In this, it has much in common with other music that is a part of the Israeli dancing repertoire. Audiences in the past have appreciated the Cherry Hill field trip's rendition of this piece of music and we will see below that many in the audience emulate the dancers' arm movements at the appropriate time.

To the ]d, we see the residents, and the staff, doing the arm movements that were demonstrated above. This is not a surprise to this web site as we see this at every performance. The audience reacts to the music, to Naomi's instruction and to the enthusiasm of the entire group of dancers. This performance would prove to be no exception. From the camera standpoint, some of the residents were quite good and perhaps they put on their own dance performances when younger. No doubt this participation by the audience is one of the reasons that the Cherry Hill group's performances are praised by those in management who attend and by those administrators who hear about it through various means. It would be a very short time period before Naomi would Email congratulations to the participants on another job well done. No doubt, given the praise from the residents and staff, someday in the future the Abrams residence will be the site of another Cherry Hill field trip.

We are at the end of the performance. After the last dance presentation, it is a round of applause acknowledged by Naomi and her dancers as you can see above to the ]d. In a pleasant surprise for the dancers, the facility had prepared a cart of different drinks and snacks. This was especially appreciated given the high temperatures of the day and the heat generated when dancing in such close quarters. Kudos go to Laurina Kuligowski, the activities manager of the facility, for her thinking and preparation of this welcome treat for the participants. We really appreciated this gesture. And, one final thing must be done while at the Abrams Residence - the group photo - and you can see everyone, including some participant accompaniers, getting ready to pose for the camera.

It is the tradition for the Cherry Hill field trip to go out to dinner after a perfromance. In the South Jersey area, when giving a performance in that part of Jersey, there is a Chinese restaurant that has played host to this group over the years. But, this is central Jersey. A local watering hole, the Firkin Tavern, would play host to our group of dancers who met around 4:30 and shared a table. The food was somewhat English going with the theme of the restaurant and dinner progressed with its discussions of dancing, performances and how the audience reacted. But, one of the group was in for a surprise. Mike was celebrating a birthday that day and, as you can see to the ]d, a chocolate birthday cake was presented after dinner. Happy birthday to Mike who assures us that he is still only in his twenties despite evidence to the contrary.

Well, that ends our coverage of the Cherry Hill field trip to the Abrams residence in Ewing, NJ, on April 10th, 2011. To paraphrase one famous quotation, this group of 13 under the leadership of Naomi came, they danced and they were spectacular as they performed in front of the Abrams Residence residents and staff. 12 dances were performed of which 9 were circles, 2 were lines and 1 was a partner. The performance was about an hour long and seemed to be well received by the audience. An extra treat, not expected by anyone but very welcome, was the after performance drinks and treats served by the facility. Thanks go to Naomi for her role in organizing this, to Laurina Kuligowski in her capacity of activities director for the facility, to the Firkin Tavern for hosting the after presentation party, to all the dancers for adding some enjoyment to other's lives, to all who provided this web site with the photos you have seen above and to you, the web viewer, for sticking with a relatively long (140 pictures) description of these events.