I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance ever since writer and editor Judith Brin Ingber first sent me a table of contents. When I finally met her in person last year at the Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Dance conference at The Ohio State University, she whetted my appetite for the anthology even more with her slide show of images from the book. And now, having carefully read through my copy of this sizable volume, published this past summer by Wayne State University Press, I can vouch that this book was well worth the wait. For those of us who study the field – and for those who wish to know more about the subject – Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance is an invaluable resource.
Besides a few of Brin Ingber’s own writings, this anthology includes an extraordinarily diverse array of writers: Sara Levi-Tanai, Felix Fibich with Judith Brin Ingber, Janice Ross, Nina S. Spiegel, Josh Perelman, Ayalah Goren-Kadman, Dawn Lille, Shalom Staub, Giora Manor, Zvi Friedhaber, Barbara Sparti, Yehuda Hyman, Jill Gellerman, Dina Roginsky, Elke Kaschl, Naomi M. Jackson, and Gaby Aldor. Some of these authors are themselves dancers and choreographers who offer their first-person insights, while others approach their topics from a scholarly point of view. This breadth of voices is one of the book’s greatest strengths, engaging the reader anew with the start of each article.
Moreover, with writings by such a substantial number of authors who boast different areas of expertise, Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance provides perspectives on a remarkably wide range of subject matter. Articles on Jewish dancing masters in Renaissance Italy, Israeli folk dance as practiced in Israel and New York City, Hasidic dance, Yemenite dance, Kurdish dance, Ethiopian dance, ballet, contemporary dance, and more all find their place in this book. Spanning history and geography, and encompassing dance performed both onstage and off, the anthology portrays a broad yet nuanced vision of how Jews have danced and continue to dance.
In keeping with the title of the book, Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance features not only texts but also a wealth of images. 182 illustrations illuminate the authors’ points. You can view some of the images and hear Brin Ingber’s explanations in the video produced by the Jewish Daily Forward below.
Since the publication of Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance, Brin Ingber has embarked on a series of book signings and lectures, and her travels have now brought her to Israel. On Sunday, December 18, she will speak at the Dance Library of Israel at 8:00 p.m. Entrance is free, but due to limited seating, reservations should be made by e-mailing [email protected]