Cherry Hill Performs at Lionsgate 2.21.10

One Israeli dancer claims that there is but 2 degrees of separation when dealing with Israeli dance and dancers. A lot can be said about that as the following discussion will verify. On February 21, 2010, The Cherry Hill Israeli dancers, led by Naomi and augmented by the likes of Iris (known as Iris the redhead to those who attend Israeli dance sessions in the Phila area), Rob Markowitz and Moshe Gordon both of whom have been mentioned in a previous field trip description, descended on the Lionsgate retirement complex in Southern New Jersey to perform 2 shows, one at 2:00 pm and the other at 3:00pm.

February 21 of 2010 would prove to be the only weekend where this demonstration would be practical as all the other weekends in February were affected by adverse weather. Luckily, the powers that be who set up schedules, had picked this date in early January, a very fortuitous selection. But, the area had not escaped unscathed. Below are pictures of the parking lot and buildings at Lionsgate decorated in the record snowfull that occurred that winter

This event was not alone on the Israeli dance schedule that Sunday with Germantown being scheduled in the morning and the Klein JCC session scheduled that evening. If you count the two performances, this could allow a dancer 4 opportunities to whirl, turn and move to Israeli dance music and one participant took advantage of such. Many of the participants of this demonstration partook of the evening Klein session. If you add a really interesting get together at the Shangri-La Chinese restaurant after the performance, one could conclude that this was an interesting day of commaraderie and dancing

The disk coordinator, as usual, went along to this Cherry Hill event to keep track of this group's activities. We were there to document the arrival of the dancers and to gauge the interest of the audience. In this case, there was a real divide between the audiences per the different performances. The first, at 2:00PM, was done in front of Skilled Nursing, the second performance, at 3:00PM, was done before a crowd from Assisted living.

Research by the disk coordinator indicates that the Cherry Hill Israeli dancers are not the only Israeli dance group performing at this venue. To the right is a picture from the Fall '09 Lionsgate newsletter which seems to indicate that others have performed Israeli dance at this retirement center. But, no group can have the enthusiasm of the Cherry Hill dancers. And for what reason: The enthusiasm shown by their leader, Naomi, trickles down to each dancer and they give their all when performing in front of the various groups. And Naomi enhances this by training her group to include the audience in the dancing by strategic turns toward these viewers at appropriate points, by encouraging audience participation especially with dances like tsa'ana and with her explanation of the translation of the meaning behind the lyrics, most of which are generally in a foreign language.

So, while the outside was snowy and cold, the inside would glow with the good fellowship of the residents of Lionsgate intermingled with the good deeds of the Cherry Hill Israeli dancers. The pictures below show the audience gathering for the first performance. Since the first performance was in the Skilled Nursing part of this complex, most of the audience had to be assisted to their location around the dance floor. The pictures below attempt to document the positioning of the audience. While looking below, note how some of the pictures show the staff interacting with the residents. The staff tries to make accomodation for everyone who wants to view the coming performance. It's very obvious even to a casual observer like the disk coordinator that the staff treats the residents with the utmost respect and this is a mutual feeling between all.

Now, Naomi's work is augmented by the help of others. For instance, the artists, Alison and Andrew contribute their expertise to these performances by creating the program that will handed out to the audience. This handout is done in Microsoft Word and includes the list of dances that the audience will see in these performances. Like all artists, the names of Alison and Andrew appear prominently on their works of art as you can see below.

These programs are a recent addition to the Cherry Hill presentations having started in October with the performance at Brith Sholom. It is always interesting to see the interaction between the audience and the artists as they hand out their programs. Like all artists, they are very proud of their work and they make sure to explain to all not only their program but what the audience should expect to see when the performance starts. Below are some pictures of the artists, Alison and Andrew, prepping the audience as they organize, handout and survey the use of the programs.

While the artists do their thing, the group begins to arrive. Appropriately, one of the first to arrive is Naomi and below we see her to the right as she begins to assemble her equipment. This is not going to be an easy matter given that there are two performances. Equipment that is put together will have to be broken down and reassembled in another part of the facility. However, Naomi has had this experience before and she brings a hand cart to facilitate the movement of the equipment between the various locations. On any presentation in this modern era, power sockets must be available and this is a major factor as to where to place the equipment, especially the computer, for each performance. One might ask, if not privy to the use of a portable to play music and DJ, why not run this on the battery. Battery technology has increased as far as capacity is concerned and the disk coordinator has a machine that claims it provides up to 9 hours of service. Naomi's machine is older and provides perhaps 2 to 3 hours of such service. But this service is based on low level usage and this is not the case when running programs that produce music. Every aspect of the machine, especially as far as audio is concerned, is in use and battery power cannot be guaranteed for any such performance and therefore the portable is hooked up to a power source and this gives the DJ, in this case Naomi, a sense of security as she operates the machine during the performances.

While and after Naomi resolves her equipment, the Cherry Hill Israel dancers, bolstered by others in the Philadelphia Israeli dance community begin to arrive. The disk coordinator tried the best he could to capture these arrivals. The 4 photos below serve as an example. On the left we see the arrival of two Debbies, Deena and Ety's son. As mentioned in previous pages on this site, it is through the effort of the 2nd Debbie and Deena's Mother, Hildi, that the Cherry Hill group began to give these performances. The first Debby is an avid Israeli dancer and has been an attendee in previous locations for these events and Ety's son contributed to this web site by taking some of the action pictures you will be seeing. In the next picture we see the arrival of Amy. Notice everybody is bundled up against the cold weather at the time of the performance. The next picture was a real surprise: Iris of Don's Thursday night class. Iris is known both for her dancing ability and her outgoing personality. Apparently, she is part of a group that does similar events along the Main Line and if this web site is ever invited, we'll cover those pesentations as well. Finally to the right, and you've met her son, is Ety in the lead followed by Malca. Ety and Malca are residents of Central New Jersey, above Ft Dix, and it's quite a haul to come Israeli dancing in this area of Jersey, but they do the trip weekly for Naomi's Tuesday class in addition to these performances.

Below, we see others who arrived either earlier than the disk coordinator or who arrived relatively early such that we could get shots.From left to right below is Gary who was a presence the last time Cherry Hill was at Lionsgate in 2008, Rob Markowitz who has attended quite a few of the Cherry Hill field trips in the last few years with Jennie at the right(whose back is toward us and who contributed multiple pictures to this web page), Moshe Gordon whose photography was a prominent feature of the October 25th performanace at Brith Sholom (and who we hope will provide some other photographs of this event some time in the future) and a picture of Ronnie - next to Iris - one of the regulars at the Tuesday session. In all, and we didn't get everybody who was there, seventeen dancers were part of these two performances.

So, with the arrivals of the participants, the setting up of the equipment, the positioning of the audience, and the distribution of the programs, all that was left was to await the 2:00 start time for the first performance. This wait time was taken up by last minute instructions from Naomi to her group, discussions among themselves between the participants and the audience and the general chit chat that predominated all conversations the winter of '10: weather, weather and weather! Some just choose to stare - perhaps thinking that some of these pictures might show up on the internet. That's always possible! Below are some pictures as we await the start of the performance.

Well. it's 2:00 and the performance begins. There will be 13 dances in all that are presented to the audience. A list of these are presented in the program and also at the bottom of this web page. For this performance, 10 are circles, 2 are line and one is a partner. Before each dance, Naomi explains the meaning behind the lyrics, sometimes delving into the genre of the music and sometimes giving the audience instructions as to their part of the performance. The highlight of this is the hand movements necessary for tsa'ana (Sana), a song and dance that commemorates the historic capital of Yemen. The pictures below show Naomi prepping the audience. And, by the way, Naomi really gets the audience to participate and at the appropriate moments of the dance, they are really into it as are the dancers. No doubt her training as a psychologist and her profession as a college professor helps Naomi to motivate both groups, the senior citizens and the dancers.

After the demonstration, a dance begins. Dancing in a small area has its own ups and downs as one worries about handling the choreography and the possibility of tripping. In this case, there is an added concern that one may end up in the lap of a senior citizen. Thankful ly, this web site is happy to report that there were no accidents to either the dancers or the audience. The pictures below show dancers from a dancer's perspective. If you look closely, you will see that one member of the audience fell asleep during the performance. But this did not dampen the spirits of the participants as they just continued to dance.

As mentioned, the Cherry Hill Israeli dancers performed twice, one at 2:00 the other at 3:00. Below is a montage of this dancing in no particular order as we combine images from both locations and both performances

The entire afternoon performance ended approximately 3:45PM after the second of the two performances. Both performances received rounds of applause and the participants spent some time talking with the members of the audience. Israeli dance can be perceived as an aerobic exercise at times and the disk coordinator would be the first to make that claim but there is also a spiritual nature to this dancing. This in one way or the other becomes evident when visiting these senior residences and performing in front of people who can no longer deal with the physical demands such dancing would require. Anyway, above is a group photo of the dancers after the last performance. We see at the top, Ronnie, Moshe, Marc, Ety, Naomi, Amy, Gary, Deena, Debbie, Rob and Iris. Kneeling is Debby, Malca, Jennie, Sarah, Fran and Ben. Below are the artists: Andrew and Alison.

We did mention the 2 degrees of Israeli dance freedom. It is the tradition for this group to go out to dinner after a performance. For some, like Fran, this is the highlight of the afternoon. Everyone that made it to the Shangri - La restaurant that afternoon was treated to a piece of chocolate cake made by Naomi to celebrate the birthday of one of the participants: none other than Rob Markowitz. The restaurant threw in a candle which could have been used as a miniature flame thrower and the party really began. Someday, this site will have pictures of this impromptu party but we can assure you that everyone had a lot of fun at this restaurant. Coupled with the performances and the other dance events of that Sunday - Germantown and Klein - it was a great day to remember and savor given the weather and it brightened an otherwise unbearable set of weeks in February.

Below is the playlist for the Lionsgate performance