Anyone who has studied this web site knows that three to four times a year, the Cherry Hill Israeli dance session, augmented by additional dancers from the Philadelphia region and elsewhere, under the leadership of the Cherry Hill session's leader, Naomi, performs what they call a Cherry Hill field trip at a senior citizen facility. Normally, these trips are to a local center of some type, but on Sept 18th, 2011, a trip of a somewhat longer duration was arranged. This script deals with the latest Cherry Hill field trip to Brookside Assisted Living in Freehold, New Jersey.

To the right are our participants in this demonstration of Israeli dancing. This photo was taken after the presentation but we use it here to introduce you to the performers that day. From left to right: Ruth, Malca, Tzipi, Naomi, Ety, Gary, Vicki, Sarah, Orly, Amy, Toby, Marc, Debbie, Deena, Darcy and Mike. Moshe, who also attended this field trip is not in this picture and may be the one who snapped it. With Moshe, severteen dancers participated in this event. The colors of the day should also be obvious, Black tops and blue jeans and we have copied these colors for this script, Aqua on Black.

In previous Cherry Hill field trip scripts, we have concentrated on the performance that day and, in a short while, we will do the same for this script. But, we feel it is only fair to indicate the preparations that this group goes through to be in the position of presenting their routine. About a month prior to the performance a vote is taken to decide the music and dances to be presented. Then for a few weeks the proposed routine is practiced on Tuesdays evenings as part of the Cherry Hill session. Inadvertantly, another script on this web site was interwoven into these practice sessions as the participants of the John Frank led trip to the Cherry Hill session were given a front role seat to the preparation for this trip. This montage shows some of the visitors dancing with the regulars that night at the Cherry Hill session. The visitors did participate in the practice for this performance. If interested, you can see more on this by clicking here.

We believe this was the farthest north that this group has travelled to perform. Perhaps this indicates that the group's reputation is growing. To the right, we include a map showing the travels of several members. In addition are some pictures of the outside and immediate inside of the facility. Brookside is an assisted living facility. This means that residents can live independently or with dependence on services as needed. Therefore, we would expect most of the audience to be ambulatory which was the case although several of the audience members were assisted to their seats by staff.

While we have your attention, we should give you a little history of Freehold, which was where this performance took place. Freehold is the county seat of Monmouth county. The political structure of New Jersey counties were affected by British mores and customs. The term Freeholder is British to indicate a landowner whose property is clear of liens and encumbrances. This terminology was transported to New Jersey well before American Independence. At that time in the colonies, only those (and we are dealing with men) with property could govern and the committees that governed what would become New Jersey's counties became known as the Board of Selected (or chosen) Freeholders. Freehold was originally called Monmouth County Courthouse but eventually the present name was coined from the presence of the board of freeholders within the environs. The most famous resident, although not born in Freehold, is Bruce Springsteen and it is assumed that some of his songs pertaining to small American towns depict life in Freehold. Freehold, being close to New York, was very affected by 9-11 and far right is the Freehold 9-11 memorial.

Now, as we return to the performance, orders were for the group to meet at 2:30 with the performance set for 3:00. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the venue of the performance. Brookside has its own theater-like setting with a stage avaiable for performances. The Cherry Hill group was not going to use the stage, preferring to have the audience seated within a semi circle, but the stage did afford a space to set up the equipment.

For many, it was quite a drive and the arrival of the dancers was spread out between 2 through 3PM. Some came just in the nick of time. We caught most of the participants as they first arrived. For some, like Naomi, time was spent after arriving on setting up equipment. For others, it was conversation with friends and acquaintances. And, then for some, it was the wait for the onset of the performance as this montage shows.

While the performers are arriving and greeting each other, the audience also is arriving. We see some pictures of the residents, and because it is a Sunday, a good many residents brought visitors also. Generally in these Cherry Hill field trips the facility publicizes this event to the residents throughout the prior week and most of the audience arrives early. In this montage you see a beginning trickle and then a rush just prior to the performance. One of the performers counted more than eighty in the audience and this is probably a record attendance for any Cherry Hill field trip.

We are fast approaching 3PM. Naomi is set to huddle with her dancers as she finalizes and checks the installation of her equipment. There is a lot to go over as some of the dancers are not regulars at the Cherry Hill Israeli dance session and are not familiar with the selected play list for this event. We eavesdropped on the comversation and can relate that she first preps her group on the dances that are to be performed. Several dances are emphasized as she has altered the choreography of these to include the audience. After reviewing the dances, she now gets to what could be called her bulleted action items for this presentation.
1. Smile, Smile, Smile.
2. Take small steps.
3. Dance within the group by keeping shoulder to shoulder with your neighboring dancer.
4. If not familiar with a dance, step out and take pictures.
With a final 'good luck' it is onto the presentation. We might add that we appreciate her last point as this is how we obtain pictures of these performances and we should take this opportunity to thank Marc. Moshe, Naomi and Vicki for taking and/or submitting pictures to this web site that have been incorporated into this script.

Well, we're just about ready for the performance to begin. Naomi, the leader of the Cherry Hill session readies herself for her introductory remarks to the audience. We've talked about this before. At least to one person, and we are using this person's photos as it is always a highlight of a Cherry Hill field trip performance to him, it is truely amazing how the audience and dancers at this facility give her their undivided attention. You could say that this is a captive audience desperate for interaction with live performers and, no doubt, there is something to this. But, it has to be more than that as all talking stops and all heads, male and female, audience and dancer, turn in her direction. For this performance, Naomi does not fail to impress and you can see two levels of shots here; the top focuses on Naomi as she introduces the group and gives a short discussion pertaining to the lyrics of the first dance; the bottom focuses on several members of the audience and on several of the dance participants as they listen to Naomi.

Now, we are ready for the first dance. As mentioned many times on this web site, Israeli dancers love to dance. So, both for the audience and our performers, the tension rises as the dancers form a circle and prepare for the first of thirteen dances. Our photos show the initial formation of the circle and then progress through the dance. It should be clear that the dancers are enjoying themselves and this allows them to easily follow Naomi's previous instruction, smile; smile; smile. What about the audience. How are they taking this?

These shots have been taken at the same time that the dancers were performing above. To be fair, one person seems to be asleep but the vast majority seem quite interested in the performance. In fact, looking at the back we see several standees at the door - we assume these were not residents - who are looking in to see the performance. One woman is taking pictures through her cell phone. Both sexes are interested as you can see. We've seen this before so we're not surprised. In fact, this verifies why the Cherry Hill performers are invited back to these facilities. As much fun as it is for our dancers, the vast majority of residents also enjoy watching these performances.

At the bottom of this script, we will give you the repertoire of the dances that were performed at Brookside that afternoon. The selection was representative of what one would expect in a session of Israeli dance. Several of the selections were old time favorites from a time when Israeli folk dance was a subset of International folk dance. Other selections were more modern and are based on the newest trends in dancing and music. The vast majority of the dances selected were circle dances where the dancers form a circle and go either clockwise or counter clockwise depending on the choreography. One selection was a partner dance and two of the selections were line dances where the dances form a checkerboard and do the steps individually. This montage shows the performers as they are doing circle dancing. Several shots zoom in and other shots show the entire circle. Take a look at these pictures. Naomi's pre performance huddle emphasized smiling. You can see that at minimum the dancers are responding to this request. But, it's more than that. Most of these dancers enjoy the steps and the music of Israeli dance selections so the emotion is not faked.

One of the circle dances that was performed is S'ana (also spelled Tzs'ana and Sa'ana). This is a historic city of special significance to the country of Yemen. Several songs have been inspired by the aura of this city including the song and tune danced at this performance. When the Yeminite Jews were repatriated to Israel in the 1950's, they brought along these tunes and later an Israeli dance was created for one of these melodies. The dance itself is noted for its arm movements which can be designated as palms up, palms down, fingers snapped, hands clapped. Naomi brings the audience into this dance by previewing these arm and hand movements prior to the performance of the dance. You can see on the top photos of this montage that she is running the audience through these hand movements. The dancers have spread out to mimic Naomi's instructions. Is the audience following this practice? We have zoomed in on several audience members as they follow Naomi's movements. The bottom portion of this montage shows the dance being performed. We've caught the dancers just at the end of the hand movements as they are about to move into another part of the dance. We've also zoomed into the audience. You will notice that practice in this case makes perfect as the audience lends their hands in support.

One of the circle dances that is always performed by the group is Kol Ha'Koach (and there are various spellings for this) This dance has become the unofficial signature dance for this group and is generally done at the end. Israeli dancers would know this dance and would not be surprised if we were to indicate that the dance is quite energetic with many twists and turns. The music allows for the dancers to do the steps twice during the music. Each time the dancers are doing three parts. As the group performed this, several cameras, both still and movie, were trained on the circle and we were able, through Moshe, to secure a video of this. Video recording is nowhere as fine tuned as still photography but allows one to get a feel for the movement. So, this montage is directed to those visiting this site who have not had the personal experience of Israeli dancing. We have isolated 24 positions of the dancers through the first rendition of the dance. The three parts are included here. What cannot be included is the full turns done several times by the dancers during each rendition of the steps as the stills from the movie camera catch and display a blur. Nevertheless, if not familiar with this type of dancing, these pictures should give you somewhat of a feel of the energy needed for this type of dancing.

As mentioned previously, Israeli dances consist of circle, lines and partners. One of the favorite line dances, a staple of these performances, is Turkish kiss. Similar to S'ana there are extensive arm movements which lead to a Dinah Shore type of kiss at the end (for those of you old enough to remember her TV show). The top three quarters of this montage shows pictures of this line dance as performed at Brookside. Even though we are about 45 minutes into the performance, the bottom row of pictures shows most of the audience still rapt in attention. This says a lot about the perfrormance, the enticement of the music and the interesting aspects of the steps of these dances.

Similar to what was shown when discussing S'ana, we obtained a video of the dancers doing Turkish kiss. This montage breaks down the video into a set of stills. You will be able to discern the arm movements more readily. As hinted above, many dancers become exposed to Turkish Kiss upon their first exposure with Israeli dance. It generally remains a favorite with most. You can see in this montage a great enthusiasm as the dancers gyrate around. No doubt, this enthusiam was transmitted to the audience and you already have seen above that quite a few in the audience were mimicking the arm movements. Audience participation is not as obvious in these shots.

And, there you have it. A Cherry Hill field trip to what seemed like the northern extremes of New Jersey, the city of Freehold, to give a dance recital, presentation and just good fun at the Brookside assisted living facility. This montage presents additional pictures not used above. Thirteen dances were performed and we list them here
1. Od Lo Ahavti Dai
2. Bo'u nashir L'eretz Yaffa
3. Shalom Aleinu
4. Hakol Patuach
5. Pitom Kam Adam
6. Hamalech Hagoel Oti
7. Tza'ana
8. Banu hair Et Ha'ir
9. Lev Patuach
10. Neshika Turkit (Turkish Kiss)
11. Hinei Ma Tov
12. Ilu Tzipporim
13. Kol HaHoach
It was a long trip for many but everyone seemed to have fun. The audience certainly seemed receptive. It appears that Naomi received an invitation for the group to come back and we'll see when that occurs. Of course, as we finish this script, we want to again thank Mark, Moshe, Naomi and Vicki for supplying all of these pictures.