This site continues to track the Philadelphia regional dancers as they travel to various dance camps. During the weekend of April 27th through April 29th, at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, the Hilula dance camp took place and there was a local Philadelphia contingent. Prior to the camp, this web site contacted several of the participating dancers to see if we could obtain photographs of that weekend and possibly debrief those in attendance afterward. With their help, we present the script below: The Philadelphia dancers infiltrate the Hudson Valley. The players in this, as shown below, are Jody G, Andrea Wallach, Tanya Buchman, Marc(k) Rauer, Gary and Milt Cohen. We should add that a sequential display of pictures from this camp can be found by clicking here.

One of our party commented about crossing the Tappan Zee bridge and how scary that was given his well known fear of heights and panorama. We might add that some feel his fear possibly extends to people, too. But, he had a question! How did this river get its name? Does it flow down from the Hudson Bay? We put our crack group of analysts to work to answer these questions and here's where we start our story. This area of New York would have been cleared and become habitable at the end of the last great ice age, some 12000 years ago. In 1608, or thereabouts, came the first visit to America by ships under the captainage of Henry Hudson, pictured to the left, an Englishman of whom little is known except for his voyages. Even this first voyage defies logic and sense as Hudson, sailing under the aegis of the Dutch East Indies Company, heads east around what is today Scandanavia looking for an eastward route to Asia, gets blocked by ice, heads westward and eventually sails up the river that will bear his name. He will not be the first to make such a wide U-turn - several of our dancers became lost on their way to the Hilula camp navigating and making U-turns around present day New York City and they had GPS. Anyway, Hudson finds this river to be quite navigatable and he makes it as far north as today's Albany before heading back. If he would have continued upriver, he would have found himself in the river's watershed just below what is the present St Lawrence River. It is this voyage, through the Dutch company that funded his trip, that starts New York as New Amsterdam and establishes the Dutch presence in this new continent and contributes to names like Tappan Zee, where a massive bridge crosses the Hudson, and family names such as Stuyvesant and Roosevelt (anglicized from Van Rosevelt). Hudson would do one more trip to the Americas, this time under the aegis of the British East Indies company, to explore the Hudson Bay way up north from the Hudson river and in no way connected. Except for exploring this bay, the trip was in no way successful by any stretch of imagination as his crew mutineed and left him behind on the Canadian shore and, we are sad to report, he was never seen again. The second picture depicts both trips, red for the first, blue for the second. We are pleased to report that a similar situation did not occur during this trip in question: All the dancers - Marc, Jody, Gary, Andrea, Milt and Tanya as pictured above - have been seen recently in venues in the Philadelphia region pursuing their passions for dancing.

In traveling to the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, all our dancers reported being on the New York Thruway, aka Interstate 87, for much of their journey. Probably few gave a thought to the history they were passing along the way, some of it related to the Philadelphia region's relationship to New York. Somewhere on Route 87 would have been a sign for West Point which most would recognize as the site of the United States Military Academy. Long before it served this purpose, West Point was a fort that protected the upper reaches of the Hudson river. As stated, Henry Hudson himself had navigated the river as far north as Albany. And if he could do it, so could the British fleet when New York was a colony in rebellion. Such an event, the British fleet making it to Albany, would have split the colonies and quickly ended the Revolutionary war and this was the significance of General Benedict Arnold's attempt at treason. At that time, Philadelphia was the major city of the colonies, but 50 years after the country's independence, New York gained the supremacy. Again the Hudson river played an important part. Two canals were built in the 1800's - the Erie Canal, which connected the Hudson river (slightly above Albany) to Lake Erie, and the Chicago Drainage canal, which connected the Chicago river to Lake Michigan. Through these canals and the Hudson river, goods could easily flow from New York to the Mississippi River and the heartland of a growing country through this inland waterway by barge (and not by the need of ocean going vessels) giving New York a distinct advantage over transit from Philadelphia. This resolution of the intense struggle for supremacy between New York and Philadelphia in terms of commerce - now replaced by a similar competition in sports - probably was not on the minds of our travelers as they anticipated a weekend of intense Israeli dancing.

In a way, the previous reincarnation of the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa (an aerial view of which is above left) leads us into a discussion of the importance of this area of the country during the first three quarters of the last century, 1900-1975. Two industries led the way. Although the computer industry was born in the Philadelphia area during and after World War II, it quickly moved to New York before Silicon Valley proved to be dominent. Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM (and appearing in the center picture above as he dedicated a new IBM facility in this area) grew up in central New York State. As the company grew, IBM facilities for manufacturing and research abounded in this part of the country above New York City. As this grew, another industry, hospitality and entertainment, became an integral part of this region. What is informally called the Borsht Belt, a series of Kosher hotels in this region providing entertainment and fun within a kosher environment, became world famous and spawned multiple artistic and comedic careers. One of these hotels was the Granit Hotel which today is none other than the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, the destination of our travelers.

To the left is a picture of Marc Rauer's new gold colored Prius, nicknamed Auric after some villian of fiction, as it is parked at one of the many scenic overviews available on NY Rt 44 & 55 as one travels through this area of the country. It is with this Prius, and its attainment of 50 mpg throughout the trip, that Andrea and he crossed the Hudson river on the Thruway using the Tappan Zee bridge. They may not have known it, but they went horribly out of their way to accomplish this although to some degree the bridge is also out of the way in the scheme of things pertaining to the New York Thruway. In 1949, New York opened the first parts of the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey throughway initially scheduled to begin construction at the western edges of the New York/Canadian border and then move south in stages to Suffern New York, somewhat above New York City. Somewhat late in constuction, it was decided to extend the Thruway south into the Big Apple. Where to cross the Hudson? Apparently politics and abdministrative machinations between various authorities required a crossing well above the city and an area of the river known as the Tappan Zee was selected. The Tappan of Tappan Zee is named after the Indian tribe that occupied this region and Zee is Dutch for a large expanse of water. Therefore, this area of the Hudson is quite wide and you already know from the discussions above that the Hudson is navigatable by large ships leading to the need of a high and wide bridge. For aesthetic purposes the bridge was designed to blend into and look very much like the rest of the highway offering a beautiful vista which is both magnificent but also quite terrifying for those suffering height and landscape fears (such as the driver of this Prius). And it's not just a problem of Agoraphobia: the height and vista also is a mecca for those with suicidal persuasions. Changes to the bridge over the last few years, which now includes high barriers along the edges, have helped both the suicidal and the agoraphobic to safely navigate across the river. Plans are underway to replace this bridge sometime in the near future.

As stated several times, the destination of our dancers was the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa. Prior to 1998, when taken over by new owners, this was the Granit hotel. The hotel sits on Granite Street and its possible that this is the reason for its prior name although this would raise a question of the missing 'e'. Granite and mineral mining is a big component of New York state and even though New Hampshire sports the name, "The Granite State", considerable granite quarries abound in New York state. The hotel itself has been refurbished and the rooms are quite large especially for the dancers who did not share accomodations. A new addition for this facility is a golf course but we doubt if any of our dancers partook of that activity during this wekend. Above are some pictures of the facility and some of these pictures can be found on the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa's web site which you can link to by clicking here.

With the change of name and ownership, the Hotel's emphasis generally is to provide for corporate conventions and retreats. But for this weekend, dancing prevailed. And not just israeli dancing. If you were on the web prior to this weekend you would have been able to find what we indicate above: a large Polka festival whose number of participants dwarfed the number of israeli dancers present. We can report, as the picture on the right attests, that one, Dolly Kubasco, was honored for her work in advancing the popularity of Polka in this country. This work includes her own polka web site. Reports indicate that this award was a surprise to her as news of this award was kept hush-hush. Two of our dancers may have seen the awarding take place as Jody G and Milt joined the polka dancers during much of Saturday night. We are told that there was limited mixing throughout the weekend as these genres of dance are quite different. Apparently, this resort is used quite often for dance festivals and we include mention of Hilula's big brother, Hilulim, a dance camp that takes place each November.

Of course, as we remind all readers, this is supposed to be an Israeli and International dance web site so our focus for the rest of this script emphasizes the local Philadelphia Israeli dancers participation that weekend. Similar to the polka dancing, the web offered advertisement and announcements per this Hilula camp as we indicate above. The last picture is a copy of the schedule for the weekend which we will relate to you. Lunch on Friday was to be the first meal and afternoon dancing and teaching would commence at 2PM and last through 7Pm that afternoon and evening. For those observant, a shabbat dinner would be on the docket that evening and somewhere around 10 to 11PM, dancing would continue into the wee hours. Those familiar with Israeli dancing know that the wee hours could be anywhere from 2 to 5AM. After breakfast on Saturday, it would be dancing for the entire day broken up into teaching sessions, line dance sessions, partner sessions and an all night dance marathon. Even ballroom dancing would be included per the cocktail party scheduled Saturday night before dinner when all sorts of music would be played. Sunday promised a morning of dancing although we understand from the participants that breakfast was served but dancing was cancelled as too many of the dancers were knocked out by the lateness of Saturday night's session.

This montage tries to give a picture of what awaited our dancers if they arrived on Friday afternoon. You can see the Lobby of the hotel and then a picture of the entrance to ballroom B. This picture may be misleading as this website believes that throughout the weekend dancing occurred in a similar sized ballroom A and up in a restaurant area designated as the View. The next few pictures show participants hard at work at what they do best: Israeli dancing. These afternoon sessions had a considerable amount of teaching interspersed with various medlays of Israeli dance music. We have been told that while several partner sets were done during these sessions, they were quite intersperced so it would have been possible to miss this type of set if you came in and then went out to continue unpacking.

If you are running an Israeli dance camp, you need Israeli dance choreographers. Of course, if you are operating an Israeli dance web site reporting on such choreographers, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have some photography of the choreographer's exploits for that weekend. Hilula is pretty professional as to its selection of its choreographers; this web site, as we remind you, is very low level and none of the pictures brought back by our dancers included the choreographers. We're not stopped by this and other oversights and above, from the world wide web, are pictures of the two choreographers, Kobi Michaeli, on the left and Eran Bitton, on the right. The Philadelphia dancers are very familiar with Kobi Michaeli as he was a choreographer at Hora Aviv 2005 and 2006. In fact, Kobi was reminded by one of the Philadelphia dancers (and we'll let you guess who this was) that he was reteaching one of the dances he taught from Hora Aviv 2005. We might add that this dancer does have a reputation for remembering trivial things which has been suitably documented previously on this web site. But, back to Kobi: a cursory exploration of Aura's Israeli Dances database shows 42 dances credited to him including a personal favorite, Yare'ach Limon (Lemon Moon). Eran Bitton, reported to be the nephew of Gadi Bitton (at least this was what was told to this web site) seems to be specializing in the choreography of partner dances from what this website has been told and, to this end, he taught his own choreography of Yavo Haolam (also indicated as Yavo Haiom). For Eran, teaching at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa was old hat as he was one of the choreographers in November, 2011 at the Hilulim camp.

When the Granit hotel and the Catskills were in their heyday, Friday evening meals celebrating the Jewish Sabbath would have been the high point of the week. This no longer is the case for most visitors to this hotel or for the hotel itself. But, per this camp specializing in Israeli dancing, Friday night was a time for dressing up, lighting candles and singing Jewish folk songs. Above, we catch our regional dancers joining the celebration. For some of them this is a tradition they celebrate at their own homes and for others, this is always a new experience. Sneaks have been traded in for dress shoes, jeans are replaced by dresses and suits. After the meal, served buffet style, the sound equipment used for dancing was reassembled and the singing of the folk songs began.

After the dinner and the singing, it was back to dancing into the wee hours of the night if so inclined. For some it was a relatively early retirement to bed given the long trip. For one, it was an especially early retirement given the seven hours of driving in what seemed like through all of New York state. These pictures above show the dancing during this late Friday night session and the photographs concentrate on the Philadelphia contingent. In many cases per the partner sets, the Philadelphia contingent danced with each other.

As has been related to this website, it's amazing what a good night's sleep will do. Breakfast was to be served starting at 9Am on Saturday (9:30 on Sunday) in the View (where the Friday evening meal had been held) buffet style and some were up earlier than that to take in the beauty of the day. It was reported that the sun was out but it was somewhat chilly if you were inclined to venture out during the morning. For others, the lobby of the hotel provided WiFi support to browse social media, the internet or receive Email. Above to the left we see one table having breakfast and on the right is a picture of some of the Philadelphia cadre swapping stories about the trip up for the weekend.

We hope this doesn't sound like a broken record, but Israeli dance camps are created so that Israeli dancers can dance to their heart's content. Except for a short break for lunch, sessions involving teaching, general dancing, lines and partners hold sway for the day. Above, the camera catches Andrea and Mark during the partner session of the afternoon. We do not know the dance both are doing but in Israeli dancing both partners follow already choreographed movements meaning there is little lead or follow per the separate parties. Probably at the same time elsewhere in the hotel, the polka dancers are also at it but if you were to break down their steps, you would find one hundred percent male lead and one hundred percent female follow. This is the difference between these two genres of dancing but we assume participants in both of the genres enjoy the comaraderie, activity and mental concentration needed to perform.

The photographs we are using for this script come from two cameras: Marc's and Jody's although the cameras were swapped to anyone not dancing. During the same partner session above, the other camera catches another Philadelphia couple, Tanya and Milt, as they dance and two portraits of dancers. Obviously, we would like to thank Mark and Jody for the use of the pictures from their respective cameras but we should also extend our thanks to everyone who took these shots to allow us to bring these to you.

The Saturday night dinner provided excitement in various ways. For dinner, Prime rib was available at a carving station in addition to other hearty and tasty dishes. A cocktail party, prior to dinner, in the View featured popular music from the 50's through the 90's although it was advertised as the music of the 60's. Jitterbug, foxtrot, rumba, mambo, tango (both continental and Argentinian) replaced Israeli dance for that hour. The pictures above show various couples dancing and/or several of the women doing line dances in addition to the group photos of the Philadelphia contingent taken during that dinner that have already appeared previously in this script.

This web site became interested in the Cocktail party as we debriefed Mark Rauer as he returned to the local dancing circuit after the camp weekend. He indicated, just as an afterthought, that he recalls the Doris Day rendition of Que Sera, Sera being played sometime during the cocktail party and, in fact, he is sure he danced the foxtrot with Miriam Handler, who teaches an Israeli Dance class in Northern New Jersey, as this music was played. We asked him, do you know what movie this song (specifically the version indicated) was from? For once it was his turn to listen to some trivia and we will provide you, the reader, with the explanation that we gave him. The song is the key ingredient of the 1956 version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" directed and created by Alfred Hitchcock. The movie's significance is that this was the second attempt of Hitchcock to film this: the first attempt 1934/1935. The movie plots of the various editions are somewhat different. As usual, with Hitchcock movies, each of the versions has our heroes wrapped up in some plot they neither fully understand nor have initiated. In the 1934 version, the wife saves her kidnapped daughter by killing the villian with a rifle, being a skilled markswoman by way of skeet shooting. This song in question is sung by Doris Day, in the second version filmed in 1956, to find and locate her kidnapped son being held in a foreign Embassy. Following in the Hitchcock tradition, the date of the movie and the song, 1956, has allowed us to pinpoint the 1950's as the beginning range of music played at the cocktail party as indicated above.

After the cocktail party and the dinner and a change of clothes, it was back to dancing. The pictures above were taken throughout Saturday night into the wee hours of Sunday morning. It was expected that dancing would be continued the next morning and one of our group was prepared to snap more pictures as the weekend wound down. But, it was announced Sunday morning at breakfast that dancing was cancelled for the rest of the weekend and everyone was left to find their way home. So, above we see the last pictures taken at the Hilula camp of Apr 27th through 29th.

And so we end our coverage of the 2012 Hilula camp. A CD and DVD were provided for those who wished to buy and sooner or later this web site will produce a discography of what was taught (or supposed to be taught) that weekend. From what we have been told, probably about 75 dancers attended of which six were from the Philadelphia region. The excitement of wrong turns and U-turns was not repeated heading back as most used the Thruway to the Garden State parkway to the NJ Turnpike so that by early afternoon all had returned home. So far, no new dance of the camp has made it to a repertoire of any of the Philadelphia area's Israeli dance sessions although an older one already that played occasionally in Philadelphia was retaught. For some, it was a tiring weekend and they report the need for added sleep during the next few days. All have returned to dancing so we can report that there was no mutinees or nefarious deeds on their travels home. We assume the ghost of Henry Hudson must be very jealous of this. We think that a group is heading to Toronto again this year (click here for a script pertaining to the Toronto 2011 IsReal Israeli dance camp) in a few months and we hope to be able to provide the viewers of this web site with appropriate coverage