Festival Hatzafon 2015:  A community event with something for everyone 

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful idea to showcase Israeli dance and culture, while engaging our community and making friendships with other communities?   This  seed of an idea was planted just 4 years ago between founding sponsors Aviv Israeli Folk Dance Association (AIFDA) and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton. The initial launch of Festival Hatzafon “Festival of the North” took place in 2012 and the event has continued to grow ever since.   The Festival  has become an anticipated celebration of Israeli dance and culture, engaging audiences beyond a single dance performance.

“This year, we are thrilled to add an additional night as we partner with Edmonton Jewish Film Festival and Ericksen Infiniti to screen the movie Dancing in Jaffa at the Art  Gallery of Alberta on March 18, 2015,” announced Stacey Leavitt-Wright, Festival Chair. “Irresistible to behold” (New York Times), Dancing in Jaffa is a true story of a ballroom dance program for children that was created to bridge cultural divides and overcome hatred. “After participating in the Festival Karmiel in Israel  and experiencing a dance exchange in a Druze village, we were inspired to expand the festival by including this movie and delivering a message of peace through dance,”  she added.

A light reception will follow as the festival emulates the theme with a dance exchange.  “Our community will be sharing the dance  Od Yavo choreographed by Shmulik Gov Ari,” explained Leavitt-Wright.  “Anyone who wishes to learn this dance with us can come to Israeli Circle Dance at our Sunday weekly sessions and join in the offering.”  These sessions are held at the Lecky School of Dance (9764 182 Street) and open to recreational dancers – beginners and beyond!
“We encourage people to come out to learn the dance that our community will be offering that evening.  We are also excited to welcome a member of the Edmonton Druze community who will teach us a Debkah, a traditional circle dance that is used at celebrations much like our Hora.”

This year’s theme “Celebrations in Israel” presented by General Recycling will feature new choreographies and beautiful costuming with two performances at the ATB Financial Arts Barn, Westbury Theatre on March 22, 2015.  Performers will include the Aviv Dancers, teen groups Mayim and Shemesh,  Rikud Academy childrens  groups, as well as guests from Winnipeg, Calgary, the Druze community, Orchesis from the University of Alberta and Viva Dance.  Sari Uretsky Leung, Artistic Director, explains that “Israeli dance festivals around the world celebrate our Jewish heritage, community and connection to the land of Israel. It is AIFDA’s mission to spread peace and understanding through the art of dance to our communities near and far.   We are excited to have many guest performers who share in our mission and want to strengthen bonds with one another.  The friendships and memories that will be forged this weekend will last a lifetime.”

The ATB Arts Barns will come alive with a kosher style deli, concessions and the Interactive Israeli Celebrations Expo presented by Volvo of Edmonton. Many agencies are partnering with the festival to round out the afternoon, providing hands on activities and fun for all ages related to celebrations in Israel. Camp BB, JCORE, JNF, JFS, Na’amat, PJ Library and Talmud Torah will have games, wine tasting, foods and more for your pleasure!  Of course, Israeli Circle Dance is the heart and soul of this festival and everyone will have the opportunity to join in the fun and dance together.

Doors open at 11am with Kosher Stlye Deli and concessions stand. Tickets are available at festivalhatzafon.com, jewishedmonton.org or the Talmud Torah  School office.  Movie night tickets are $10.  Dance performance tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for children or you may purchase a package for both the movie and dance performance for $25. Professionally recorded DVDs of the events can be pre purchased for $15 and this year’s artwork will also be available to purchase as a beautiful poster print.

For more information visit festivalhatzafon.com or direct an email to festivalhatzafon@gmail.com.