The Cherry Hill Israeli Dancers


Accompanied by the biggest (and longest duration having started in 2005) fan of the Cherry Hill Israeli dancers and a new fan who accompanied one of the dancers pictured above


Under the Leadership of Naomi, the Cherry Hill Israeli dance session leader

The Cherry Hill Israeli Dancers Present the Jan 30th performance at Brendenwood

Well, folks, the first of several Cherry Hill field trips scheduled for 2011 (in fact another is already scheduled for April 10th) occurred at the Brendenwood Retirement Center on Sunday, Jan 30th, 2011 in the midst of one of the coldest and rawest January's within memory. For those of you lucky enough not to have been affected by this weather, it was an awful,cold, snow filled last few weeks. But, for that Sunday afternoon, from 3 to 4, it was the intention of these dancers to warm up this center with a spirited session of Israeli dance.

To the right in the middle is the location of the center and we have drawn lines to indicate the path of the dancers as they made their way to Brendenwood. Naomi had said that the group would meet somewhat earlier, at 2:30 PM wearing the colors the day - black tops and blue jeans - and most made that schedule with some exceptions including your reporter on this, the disk coordinator, who had some trouble with Bridge traffic.

It was clear that this show would be well attended. And why not? The Cherry Hill Israeli dancers have been performing on a regular basis at Brendenwood since Oct 2005 and this makes the 4th appearance for many of the dancers.

Also, for many of the dancers, it was a time for visiting amd reminiscensing with some of the residents who were relatives or friends. Brendenwood holds a major significance as this was the site - in fact the same room - of the first Cherry Hill field trip and it was good to be back among the friendly residents and staff of this facility once more. Below, we start our coverage of both the dancers and the residents arriving for what would turn out to be a high spirited, fun for all, Cherry Hill field trip event.

To the right are some shots of the residents as they amass and wait the performance. The Cherry Hill Israeli dancers have performed in front of a variety of retirement communities. In some of these, all the residents are ambulatory, in at least one, none could maneuver on their own and then there are the ones similar to brendenwood where the residents have varied mobility and so you can see many with wheelers and others without. It was about 20 minutes before the performance and it was already getting crowded. Just before the dancing started, one of the dancers counted the number in the audience which would include nursing aides and visitors and he came up with 59 in the audience

Of course, not just the audience is assembling. The Cherry Hill Israeli dancers also have been and are arriving and the shots to the right show the group as it assembles. This is not a local affair. Dancers came from Ardmore, Valley Forge, Bucks County, North and South Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware river. From the Jersey side, dancers came from all around the area extending up to the Fort Dix and Princeton area. The favorite fan, Hildi, came from Lionsgate, another retirement community, where the Cherry Hill dancers have performed.

There's about 8 or so minutes to go when Naomi calls her entire team into a huddle. Brendenwood has many alcoves and atrium that can be used for small groups to convene and one is adjacent to the room that the perfomance will occur. All the dancers make a circle around Naomi and we are into her final instructions before the performance. Below, we will list the bullet points she made just for your reference but we do want to note that, in addition, to her items, she also must do a review of the dances for those who are not familiar with all the dances. This occurs quite frequently when dancers who are not regulars at the Cherry Hill Israeli dance sessions on Tuesday show up for these performances. There are several dances that may not be known to these individuals and Naomi goes out of her way to familiarize them with the steps assuming they will try to dance these. One of the shots to the right home in on her feet as she is demonstrating one of these dances.

Now, we hope Naomi won't mind if we list out her bullet points as indicated to her dancers. Thanks to an advance in our portable technology, we were additionally armed, besides our normal Olympus E420, with a Casio Elixim video camera. Many of the above pictures are stills from a set of videos taken during that afternoon. In addition, this video camera was able to catch Naomi's voice as she discusses the following salient points.

  • What's the most important thing: smile, smile, smile
  • Dance so that you are square shoulders with your neighbor on both sides
  • On Od Lo Ahavti Dai, on the second chorus turn outside to the audience
  • If you don't know a dance, move to the side and watch and/or take pictures

And, we might as well list out the dances for you here in the order of their play. To see a video, click on the title.

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

While Naomi is busy prepping her troops, some others are prepping the audience. After an absence, the artists Alison and Andrew have made a reappearance and have produced for this afternoon's performance one of their famed programs which you can see below. With little technical expertise on this, we are led to believe that the art work is done on two pages, representing the front and back page of the program, in a word processor. The printing is done by running the paper through for the first page and then reversing it to print on the back page. Whatever the process, this reinstitutes a custom dating back to Oct'09 when these programs first made an appearance. Not only do these artists create these programs, they distribute such and explain what the audience is about to see. To the right, we see some scenes as the programs are distributed. Several of the dancers are shown admiring this work. The artists are seen distributing the programs and we take a peek at the discussion by some members of the audience after receiving this printed information pertaining to the coming dance recital.

3 O'clock is fast approaching and Naomi leads her dancers back to the audience. There will be twelve dances done during the next hour or so. Before each dance, Naomi will give some type of explanation either about the music, the steps, the genre of dance or specific movements of the arms. At right, the first few pictures show Naomi introducing her group at the beginning of the dance presentation. These are followed by several pictures while the performance was occurring when she - and her group - demonstrated specific arm movements before a specific dance that she wanted the audience to follow.

It's time for dancing. The show must go on. The dancers line up in a circle. The first of the dances is to be the aforementioned Od Lo Ahavti Dai. The words of this song are rather interesting. The words constitute one of the best excuses ever on record for a young man to ward off the attentions of a young woman: claiming that he will be too occupied with doing great things to be involved with her. That's not the feeling of any members of the dance troupe. They are happy to be here and entertain this audience.

You may remember above that one of Naomi's points was the turn at the second iteration of the music and we catch this on some of these photos. This is not the standard choreography but she has included this feature to emcompass and embrace the audience.

Israeli dance has its basis in folk dancing and as such, there are circle dances, as indicated above, partner dances as you will see shortly and line dances. One of the favorite line dances is Turkish Kiss which is, not surprisingly, a turkish composition. It's a very active dance and the first part has many arm movements. These movements have been modelled by the dancers as Naomi has explained them prior to the start of the music. Below, we will concentrate on how the audience reacts to Turkish kiss, but on this montage we concentrate on the dancers who have lined up as the music begins. The dancer generally showing on the right in most of these pictures is named Iris and her hair color augments her name and her personality, She does not dance on Tuesday nights in Cherry Hill but is an accomplished Israeli dancer who is a regular at other Israeli dance sessions. We hope her energy and personality come through in these shots as she is one of the most engaging people you can interact with both on and off the dance floor.

It certainly looks from the above pictures that the dancers are enjoying themselves. But, what about the audience. For one male menber of the audience, he can think of nothing bad in watching attractive women dance and jump around. What could possibly be wrong with that? And, now you know why this web site looks forward to covering the Cherry Hill field trips. But what about the residents of the facility who are in the audience. This, and the next montage, attempt to answer the following questions:
  • What was the resident male participation in what might be considered more of a feminine pursuit.
  • How did the residents react to Naomi's attempt to have them participate in this performance.
  • .
To the right is an inset from the 'textbook of Basic Nursing' by Rosdahl and Kowalski, it is their contention that women heavily outnumber men at the average age of the residents at facilities such as this, possibly as many as 4 to 1. Now, we take a representative picture of part of the audience further to the right. Subtracting out Gary and Dave, who were part of the field trip, we get a 4 to 1 ratio of women to men in this picture. There is no scientific way of proving this but it would seem that this dance presentation drew equally from each sex based on the ratio between the two at this facility. This web site has noticed similar results at the last few performances which says a lot about the performers, Naomi and Israeli dancing in general in that it seems to be popular no matter what demographic to which you belong.

As mentioned above, Naomi preps the audience with information about the song and in the case of selected songs, how the audience can participate. Is she successful in this? The shots to the right home in on two specific groups of residents while the dance, Turkish Kiss, is being performed. You've seen the participants side of this in one of the montages above. Now, we concentrate on the residents. You should be able to see that some of the audience are mimicing the dancers in hand and arm movements. One of the supposed pluses of dancing is the use of mind and memory as scientists experiment on what keeps an aging populace young both physically and mentally. It's good to see seniors using their arms, tapping their feet and recognizing musical and visual clues to keep up with this music.

We turn our attention back to the dancing. In a montage above, you saw a circle dance. Another montage was part of a line dance. This montage deals with a partner dance but its very different than what would be expected of ballroom dancing or even regular Israeli partner dancing. While there are several other Israeli dances that are somewhat like this, this dance, Ilu Tziporrim, is somewhat unique.

For the audience it starts like a line dance as the participants form a set of lines. The tip off is the count as the lines make a square. By the second part, the dancers have revolved either 90 degrees or 270 degrees and then this part repeats the same steps as the first part. Its only at the third part where it becomes apparent that this is a couples dance as couples pair off (who will constitute a couple has already been decided in advance) and ultimately each couple revolves around each other until the first part starts again.

The reason to concentrate on this dance is to commend the stamina and ability of this dance troupe. This is the eleventh dance of the afternoon and all the dancing has been done on a carpeted floor which is very tiring to the legs. This dance needs a lot of room and there is not much of that commodity available this afternoon. In addition, dancing in this small room with the packed audience meant that by this time it was quite hot for all the dancers on the floor. Yet, the dancers prevailed and did quite a good rendition.

Well, like everything else, all good things come to an end. The Cherry Hill Israeli dancers performed 12 dances in front of at least 59 residents, visitors and staff of the Brendenwood retirement Center in South Jersey. The performance was about an hour long and seemed to be well received. The biggest fan, Hildi, said she enjoyed it and claimed that this was the best performance ever. Most of the performers thought it went well although many did say the heat and rug as flooring made it daunting to some degree. The pictures to the right show the group breaking up before a group picture was taken. We have not received any such picture(s) to this web site but if we do we'll add it right here. But, the afternoon was not quite done. The group has establihed a tradition of a dinner after these performances and since we were in the Cherry Hill/Voorhees area, the pick was obvious: The group had reservations for dinner at Shangri La, which is rapidly becoming the restaurant of choice for these occasions. Below, we have some pictures of the dinner that afternoon into the night.

As indicated, our final montage occurs at the Shangri La restaurant. They have always been so nice that we will afford them a free plug by indicating they are at 101 Springdale Rd in Cherry Hill and you can contact them at 856-428-5866 or visit their web site at We had told you about the weather and the first few shots show some of the dancers arriving amidst the snow. You can also see the tables at the ready for the attendees. The other shots were taken as fortune cookies were opened. This reporter can't tell you what his fortune was as, alas, his cookie came up empty. Perhaps this is the real story of his life but, for everybody else, the fortunes seemed a precursor to more pleasurable outings. It's possible that those who stuffed the cookies were aware of another pending Cherry Hill field trip on April 10th. This Cherry Hill field trip was so much fun that, if invited, we'll cover that field trip and report on it for you and this web site.