Arkadi Zaides and dancers at Majdal Shams. Photo by Itay Weiser.
This article was first published as “Creative Connections” in the Jerusalem Post on July 24, 2009. The concert I describe below is already over, but audiences in China, Taiwan, and Japan can catch the same program when Arkadi Zaides and Iris Erez go on tour in October.
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Arkadi Zaides is a world traveler. A youthful Zaides made aliyah from Belarus in 1990 and, over the last decade, his talents as an eye-catching dancer and cutting-edge choreographer led him on a series of foreign tours. So perhaps it’s not surprising that back in Israel, Zaides is focusing his creative energies on bringing worlds together through dance.
Sometimes this is a matter of linking members of diverse communities in the dance studio. For several months last year, Zaides spent his weekends in the Golan Heights at the Druze village Majdal Shams as part of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Creation and Community Initiative. There he taught workshops to a theater group and presented several of his recent works. “The project introduced them to contemporary dance and dance theater,” Zaides recalls. “It was a very unique meeting with very unique people.”
Now Zaides has received another generous NIS 50,000 grant from Teva for a project at Rabeah Murcus Studio for Dance and Movement in Kfar Yasif, an Arab village near Acre. Zaides explains, “[The studio] is quite a unique initiative in the Arab sector in Israel; it’s the one and only studio for contemporary dance.” Zaides plans to teach classes and workshops and will invite students to observe his artistic process as he rehearses a new work.
It’s not every up-and-coming choreographer that engages in these community projects, but Zaides states emphatically, “I just believe it’s a must right now. Culture can bring people together and introduce the different populations to each other – and also, it’s a form of exchange.”