Tonight at 7:30 pm, The Idan Raichel Project graces our landmark stage for a night of world-music and a wonderful blend of cultures. After tonight’s two-hour concert, we also invite audience members to join the Chicago Israeli Dancing organization in our Katten/Landau Studio for an interactive Israeli folk dance class. Click here for more information about the performance tonight.
A Look Back: Israeli Folk Dancing, Idan Raichel and My Year Spent in Israel
By Auditorium Theatre Production Associate Matthew Tepperman
In anticipation of tonight’s performance of The Idan Raichel Project at Auditorium Theatre and the subsequent post-show, folk dancing event in the Katten/Landau Studio held by the Chicago Israeli
Dancing organization, I would like to share a story about myself.
I am not a professional dancer or ballerina at all. In fact, if you met me in person, you’d say I’m as graceful as an elephant. And you’d probably be right at that, too; however, there’s something about Israeli Folk Dancing that makes me feel like I have been a dancer all my life.
When I was eleven years old, I learned about Israeli Folk Dancing at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. As campers, my friends and I each participated in a quick dance class as we were sampling through all of the arts activities. We learned a few easy dances for the week before moving onto the next activity. At the end of the week before the lunch hour, the camp took a half hour of free time to perform these dances at a large area down by the lake. At that point, those who knew or wanted to learn the dances would all participate in a really fun afternoon of Israeli Folk Dancing. There were campers and staff of all ages that joined in and soon enough, the whole area was filled with folk dancers! I remember as a camper, or even later as a staff member at Camp Ramah, if it was a Friday afternoon before lunch, I would be dancing down by Lake Buckatabon with more than half the camp while the rest watched on. And even after all these years, I still remember those dances.
Let’s then flashback to eight years ago. I had recently graduated high school and made the decision to defer my freshman year of college to study and live in Israel for the year. One of my first memories of living in Israel is of participating in a great night of Israeli Folk Dancing. A handful of my friends and I were walking through Emek Rafaim in Jerusalem and went to one of the school halls nearby that hosts many nightly programs for adults. When we got there the room was already full of people dancing in a giant circle. It took a minute to understand the choreography mid-dance, but as soon I picked it up, I jumped right in and felt like I had been doing it for years. That’s the great thing about folk dancing: it’s very communal, very fun to participate in, and anyone can do it.
As someone who has lived in Israel and experienced the culture and even seen The Idan Raichel Project live in Israel before, I can’t help but think back to those fond memories. This is mainly because everything The Idan Raichel Project does musically is so memorable. I can still recall the past two times I saw him live and what I was doing. The collaboration of additional cultures into melodies that the group produces, and the amount of energy the singers put into their performance is almost unparalleled. They always make the experience not just intimate and enjoyable, but very meaningful as well. As a fan of The Idan Raichel Project and as someone who has experienced the culture, I cannot be more thrilled that they will be performing at Auditorium Theatre.