By Jenna Soroka
(AJNews) – For the past two years, the performing arts has been greatly affected due to a variety of limitations, including the ability to gather for in-person rehearsals as well as perform live for the community.
The Aviv and Shemesh dancers of the Aviv Israeli Folk Dance Association (AIFDA) have navigated such barriers for some time now, so it was extra special when, on Sunday, April 4 2022, they performed at their end-of-the-year dance recital at Beth Shalom Synagogue. Artistic Director, Sari Uretsky, explained how leading up to the show, there were times where “we had to cancel classes, have classes online, then in-person classes, all while masking the entire time, and it’s not easy.”
The show began at 4 pm and the dancers showcased seven different dance numbers for the audience members. People clapped along and enjoyed the performances throughout the show, especially after two years without seeing these dancers live. Performing in front of an audience brings a whole different energy, and you could feel the dancers’ excitement and joy throughout the show. A Shemesh dancer shared post-show, “I love doing Israeli dance and it’s so fun! I really like dancing on stage.”
To many of these dancers, Israeli dance is a way for them to express themselves, connect back to their Jewish heritage and community, and retain friendships. “I think that Israeli dance is such a great opportunity to learn more about our Jewish background, and it was really fun [to perform]!” one dancer expressed after the show.
Before the show, attendees were encouraged to drop-off donations for the organization Basically Babies in support of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s Good Deeds Day Drive.
Sari shared how proud she was of all the dancers. “The kids have been so resilient…they had to put up with the unknown all the time.” She went on to say that they “did an amazing job; they were wonderful. They persevered. They did it.”
A small reception was held after the show for people to have a little nosh. Individual boxes of cookies and drinks, organized by Beth Shalom Synagogue, were available for people to enjoy.
Sari extended special thanks to the AIFDA executive led by President, Natalie Soroka; Jayden Leung for creating the show’s beautiful video presentation; everyone who dropped off donations for the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s Good Deeds Day Initiative; as well as family, friends, and the community for coming out to support the AIFDA dancers. Sari presented flowers to the instructors and expressed her appreciation for how they navigated the uncertainties throughout the dance year.
After two years without a recital, Sari commented how she feels “blessed and lucky [for the dancers] to be able to perform live.” She looks forward to more opportunities for the dancers to share their love of Israeli dance with the local community and beyond.
For parents of kids from K-6, Sari hopes to be able to start Rikud Academy classes back up at Talmud Torah School after the high holidays. Stay tuned for more information to come over the next few months.
Jenna Soroka is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.