"Do I dare disturb the universe?"
~T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Holidays in Israel, Gaga and fun in Tel Aviv

My time to write is suddenly diminishing, it seems, amidst an increase of rehearsals, holidays, and trips...I'll write first about the holidays.  About a week ago, following on the heels of Holocaust Remembrance Day by a week, was Memorial Day in Israel.  The very next day is Independence Day.  I wasn't sure how this would play out...I understood that the mourning for the fallen soldiers turns to joy and celebration, but to me it seemed strange to have them so close together.  But being here, living through it, made me understand.

The evening before Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, there was a ceremony on the kibbutz to remember and honor the soldiers from Kibbutz Ga'aton that have been killed in action.  It was a beautiful, but also emotional ceremony, as the images of the four soldiers' lives were captured in photo montages.  I danced in a little piece we were asked to put together.  It wasn't much, but the kibbutz members thanked us and seemed very grateful for our contribution.

The next day, on Memorial Day itself, there is a siren at 11am for 2 minutes.  We had class that day and were in the middle of ballet class.  My teacher wanted us all to be able to observe the siren, so we stopped after adagio, collected ourselves, and many of us went outside.  This siren is twice as long as the one for the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and standing there for the full two minutes felt simultaneously strange but right.  Anyway, the siren was nice to observe, but I didn't realize how much it jostled my thoughts until we reentered the studio and it was suddenly time for pirouettes.  I had no balance anymore.  I couldn't turn.  And I barely knew what the combination was.  I think it was during petite allegro that I actually left the studio....Since the siren, I really wasn't "there" anymore.  I took a few minutes for myself on a bench outside before returning for the rest of our classes that day, finally feeling somewhat collected again.

I don't know why most of us don't observe Memorial Day this sincerely in the US.  I guess it really shouldn't be a day for BBQs...It's really a day that we should remember, appreciate, and honor those who have fought and died for their country's right to exist...(regardless of political affiliation!)  Especially here in Israel, sovereignty is something that many people still question, and there are rockets and terror attacks to prove it; people here are still fighting and still dying.  The memories are fresh, and I see and understand that level of observance here.

Later that night, there was to be a ceremony/celebration to ring in Independence Day.  This is what I was wary about, because I wasn't sure what to expect, and I couldn't believe that casting off the mourning attitude and changing so rapidly to celebrating would be....respectful.  Well, I was proved wrong, because the ceremony was amazing and explained...everything.  Bonfires burned underneath structures that seemed to spell out words and shapes.  After some speeches, the ends of the metal words were lit afire by torchbearers, and the shapes burned and blazed...a star of David, a menorah, and Hebrew celebratory phrases...also a plea for Gilad Shalit to return home (kidnapped and held by Hamas for 5 years), a wish on which it seems nearly all Israelis are united.  It was truly moving.  Later in the ceremony, candles were lit by pairs of people, each couple representing a different group of kibbutz member (the older generation, the new soldiers entering the army, different groups of workers, and of course....two MASA dancers representing KCDC and the Dance Village!!).  We cheered so loudly, and the mood began to turn to celebration.  At the end, we sang Hatikva (the national anthem), and I felt proud to be one of the dancers who knew the song...so many thoughts and emotions at this moment!  And so we continued the night with much celebrating...The next day was a full day off of class, and we were invited by Roni, our program administrative director, to her beautiful house for a delicious BBQ.  I won't be home for the 4th of July, so this totally fulfilled my yearly quota for a fantastic Independence Day. :-)

View of the Mediterranean from one of the Batsheva studios
So...fast forwarding again to this past weekend, which I spent in Tel Aviv...I ventured out of the Galilee region for the first time in many weeks, for an almost vacation-like, much-needed break.  I took two back-to-back Gaga classes, which was wonderful.  The first class was a Gaga-People class I took with my friend Eldar, which was a great warmup to Gaga-Dancers, which directly followed.  In the first class, the teacher used a considerable about of Hebrew--most was translated into English, but I was really excited because often I could figure out what he was talking about even before the translation--I know body parts, directions, and certain adjectives.  So that was fun.  This class was a great way for my spine to start to feel mobile, my body awake and alive, and to remember how wonderful it is to be moving and grooving, in Tel Aviv of all places.  The Gaga-Dancers class didn't differ from a People-class as much as I would have expected...it just used some ballet terminology, and was a bit more physically rigorous by the end.  Regardless, both felt excellent.

Corner of Nachlat Binyamin, Shuk Hacarmel, and Allenby, central Tel Aviv
The remainder of the weekend was spent with good friends...Eldar who I met in Gaga class in 2008, my dear friend Abra from home who did the MASA program last fall and is now living in TA, a friend/very distant relative who I stayed with when I lived in TA three years ago, another good friend, fairly recently released from his Intelligence Officer duties who I briefly dated, when I lived in TA, and many fellow dancers who also ventured to the city.  Besides running around, being a little crazy trying to see everyone, I also made time for relaxing on the beach, reading at a cafes (one had live jazz), drinking a lot of delicious iced coffee, going out for sushi and thai food, and walking my favorite parts of the city (the shuk (market) and arts/crafts fair).  ::Sigh:: My favorite city!

I am so excited because my parents will be here in a WEEK!  And I will take them around Tel Aviv and show them all my favorite spots. :-)

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