I've been a volunteer Israeli folk dance instructor at Santa Barbara's Congregation B'nai B'rith (CBB), located at 1000 San Antonio Creek Road, since early 2000. Since 2007, I've been joined by Michal Lynch, whose folk dance repertoire is much broader than mine, including many types of European folk dance. (Note: Michal pronounces her first name like Michael).
Except during the summer, there is Israeli dancing after almost every Friday evening Shabbat service, typically led by either Arlene and Ravid Raphael or Michal Lynch. During the summer we typically have dancing once or twice per month). Most of the dances that we do are easy and require no prior experience. There is no charge for the dancing, and, by special dispensation from the rabbi and cantor, attendance at services is not required. We do all styles of Israeli dance. We tend to teach mainly the pre-1980 "classic" dances, not because we have any bias against the newer dances, but simply because we don't know many of them. (We are always ready to learn new dances and welcome guest instructors). If you have questions, send e-mail to Michal.
Friday evening Shabbat services begin at 6:00 pm. The duration of the services varies somewhat, but dancing typically begins at about 7:30 pm.
Michal teaches Israeli and international folk dancing on Monday nights, 6-8:30 pm. Beginners lesson first hour, then by request (so bring requests). Fee by donation; no charge for CBB members. The Monday evening dancing will return to CBB following the High Holy Days; see the calendar below for information about interim venue(s).
If you have a simcha and would like to have Israeli folk dancing at CBB, send e-mail to me and one of us— Michal or I—will try to accommodate. (There is never a charge for this).
For information on Contra Dancing and English Country Dancing in the Santa Barbara area, see http://www.sbcds.org.
Led by Michal Lynch, this is held at CBB (Cong. B'nai B'rith) on Mondays from 6-8:30 pm. Beginners lesson first hour, then by request (so bring requests or you will be subject to her whims).
On the five-point scale, the typical level of these dances is 2.0 to 3.5, with mostly easier dances towards the start.
Led by Osnat Ben-Schahar, this is held at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara Street (at Arrellaga), in the Parish Hall, 6:45 - 8:15 pm.
The Parish Hall can be accessed via the entryway to the courtyard on Arrellaga Street.
On the five-point scale, the typical level of these dances is 3.5 to 4.5, i.e., these are mainly advanced dances. Also, the emphasis is primarily on doing the dances, as opposed to teaching, although steps may be called for some of the dances.
Through March 20, 2016, the contemporary Israeli folk dancing will be held on Mondays. Beginning Tuesday March 28, the contemporary Israeli folk dancing will be held on Tuesdays.
If you have questions, send e-mail to Osnat.
Currently led by Arlene and Ravid Raphael and by Michal Lynch, this dancing follows the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm.
On the five-point scale, the typical level of these dances is 1 to 3.
This is held at the First Presbyterian Church, corner of Constance and State in Santa Barbara, on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm. For more information, see http://www.sbcds.org/ecd or contact Gary Shapiro: email@example.com.
10 Feb. 2017: I led dancing at CBB, standing in for Arlene and Ravid. I was heartened to see that people have not forgotten Avre Tu, and I hope that the revival of this dance will continue.
20 March 2014: I've added two recordings of "Hinei Ma Tov"—entirely different melodies—to our Shabbat playlist. Two different dances have been choreographed to the older version of the music. The first of these, which was created by Rivka Sturman in 1950, is the one that we dance to that music; click this link to watch a video.
14 Dec. 2014: I've corrected the notes for "Sixteen Tons", a great jazz dance by Yoav Ashriel. Note that several dances have been choreographed to this music. Ashriel's dance can be seen at http://phillipmfeldman.org/dance/Videos/Sixteen%20Tons.flv. VLC Media Player permits one to play the video at full speed or in slow motion.
13 Dec. 2014: I've added notes for "Avre Tu". The music is a traditional Ladino folk song. Ladino, otherwise known as Judeo Spanish, is believed to be similar to Spanish of the late Middle Ages. The dance, which was choreographed by Roni Siman Tov in 1983, is in a style that is believed similar to Spanish dance of the late Middle Ages.
9 Dec. 2014: In consultation with Michal Lynch, I've updated the notes for the classic dance Debka Oud. It appears that for many years I've been inadvertently promulgating a variant/heterodox choreography for this dance. The updated notes (at http://phillipmfeldman.org/dance/instructions/) contain instructions for both versions.
9 March 2013: I expanded the awful Wikipedia article on Israeli Folk Dance. The article was largely content-free and gave the false impression that Israeli folk dance was created out of thin air, with no roots in older Jewish and non-Jewish dance traditions. I added the following paragraph in an attempt to address these issues; we'll see if the editors allow my changes to stand:
The movements themselves are varied, in many cases drawing on older Jewish and non-Jewish folk dance traditions. Major folk influences include the Hora, which is originally a Romanian folk dance form, the Yemenite Jewish dance tradition, the Hasidic (Eastern European Jewish) dance tradition, and other Eastern European folk dance traditions. There are many debka-type Israeli folk dances; the debka is originally a Bedouin folk dance form. Some dances show primarily a single influence. For example, the dances Hora Chadera (1972) and Eretz, Eretz (1974) hearken back to the Hasidic dance tradition. Some dances combine elements from multiple folk dance traditions, or from folk and non-folk sources. The dance Ma Navu (1956) combines folk dance influences (e.g., the Yemenite step) with movements from ballet. Some Israeli dances—this is more common in the newer dances—have few if any folk elements. Prime examples are Yo Ya and Zodiak, which are done in disco format (i.e., with all dancers facing in the same direction) and have movements almost entirely from jazz dance; purists might consider such dances stylistically outside the limits of folk dance.
Sunday Feb. 28, 2016: I taught three dances--Nigun Atik, Mayim, Mayim, and Yesh Lanu Tayish--to the 1st and 2nd graders. "Yesh" was a bit of a stretch for some of the kids, but they had a good time, which is more important than learning the dances.
Monday Nov 2, 2015: We will start at 5:45 pm to review Avre Tu. This is your opportunity to learn this lovely dance, which draws on the traditions of the Sephardic Jews and is thought to resemble Spanish dance of the late medieval period.
Friday April 24, 2015: Arlene Raphael will lead the post-service dancing.
Friday March 13, 2015: Arlene and Ravid Raphael will lead the post-service dancing.
Friday March 6, 2015: Guest instructor Osnat Ben-Shahar will teach some of the more contemporary Israeli dances. In particular, I've persuaded her to teach Ana BeKo-ach. (Ana BeKo-ach is a mystical prayer that was written in the first century by the kabalistic rabbi Nehunia Ben Hakannah. The prayer contains the seventy names of G-d and is composed of seven lines, with six words in each line).
Friday 16 Jan., 2015: Michal leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm.
Monday 22 Dec., 2014: Latkes and Israeli folk dancing at CBB, to be led by Michal Lynch. Guest instructor Phillip plans to review Al Gemali, which was taught Monday 8 Dec. If people are in the mood, he might also teach either Sixteen Tons or Anshey Hageshem. The latter is an early contemporary dance by Israel Shiker.
Monday 8 Dec., 2014: In Michal's international folk dance class, guest instructor Phillip will teach Al Gemali, chorographed by Moshe Eskayo in 1971.
Friday 31 Oct., 2014: Michal leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm.
Sun 7 Sep, 2014: In the morning, Shlomo Bachar review dances from the Saturday workshop. Note: This is also the day of the Jewish Community Picnic.
Sat 6 Sep, 2014: Shlomo Bachar will teach a workshop in the morning, to be followed by a pot luck picnic lunch, another workshop in afternoon, and a dance 'party' in evening. The location has not yet been determined. Contact Michal Lynch for further information. The suggested donation for the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) is $18. Our thanks to Cong. B'nai B'rith and Bonnie Lassen for sponsoring Shlomo's visit.
Fri 5 Sep, 2014: Shlomo Bachar will be visiting Santa Barbara, leading dancing after the evening services at CBB, and teaching a workshop on the weekend. Shlomo is a living legend in the world of Israeli folk dance. Click on this link for a list of dances choreographed by Shlomo Bachar, and on this one for Shlomo's biography.
Fri 6 June, 2014: Michal leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm.
Sun 4 May, 2014: 2014 Santa Barbara Jewish Festival, Oak Park, 11 am - 4 pm. There will be Israeli folk dancing. For further information: 805-957-1115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri 21 Mar, 2014: Diane Ruiz leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm. (Thanks Diane!)
Fri 21 Feb, 2014: Phillip leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm.
Fri 14 Feb, 2014: Diane Ruiz leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm. (Thank you Diane!)
Fri 24 Jan, 2014: Michal leads Israeli Dancing at CBB following the 6 pm service. Dancing should begin at about 7:30 pm.
Fri 27 Dec, 2013: Special program—Lecture / demonstration Development of Israeli Folk Music and Israeli Folk Dance, presented by Cantor Shira Belfer, during service which begins at 6 pm and during the oneg which follows the service. I've been told that Cantor Belfer did a master's thesis at Hebrew Union College on the subject on which she will be lecturing.