Richelle Arber – Brazil – A Dancer’s View


Daughter Of The Arts is pleased to offer an opportunity for you to share with a member of the Israeli folk dance community her experience of dancing in Brazil.

The following is an excerpt from her article, entitled “BRAZILULA-February 2001” written by Richelle Arber.

“In February 2001, my husband Sam (a non-dancer at that time), and I, spent 5 weeks traveling around South America. 2.5 weeks was spent on tour in Brazil.

Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil with a population (in 2001), of 19 million (yes – that’s right! the same as Australia’s total population!) We were warmly greeted at the venue for the workshop (approximately 90 minutes out of Sao Paulo) by the guest choreographers Gadi Bitton, Yaron Ben Simchon and guest teachers, Mishael Barzilay, Yaron Carmel and Irith Schwartz.

Gabi Almog, the coordinator of “Brazilula” and the tour which was to follow, gave us all a delicious welcoming drink
of “Caipirinha” – the national alcoholic beverage (crushed ice, lime and vodka) as we met up with some other participants in the workshop. I quickly formed a friendship with Dudu Barzilay’s sister, Imbal, her husband Ilan, and Dudu’s mother, Avishag. All in all, there were about 94 Israelis, 20 Americans, (most of them Israeli born) 3 Canadians, 100 plus Brazilians, and Sam and I, as the sole representatives of Oz! In 3 days we learned 20 dances, many of which are danced here in Melbourne now. The standard of the dancers participating was particularly high in comparison to other international dance camps I have attended. Most of the Brazilian girls were teachers from all over the country. I was thrilled to be dancing alongside some of the most outstanding dancers from Israel, Brazil & the USA.

The food was good and plentiful and the atmosphere was excellent. During the day some people would relax around the pool whilst others (moi included!) preferred to dance Salsa. In the evenings, apart from Israeli dancing, we always had some entertainment such as a talent quest and a Capoeira show.

Mishael Barzilay & his family treated us to a Yemenite style Kabbalat Shabbat we would never forget. At the conclusion of the camp, the international visitors were split into 2 bus groups to make it easier to coordinate our travel & accommodation on our 2-week tour together. Our group was fortunate to be invited as guests to dance at the Jewish Community Centre, “A’ Hebraica,” right in the heart of Sao Paulo. I can’t begin to describe the size of the place, but try to picture this: – It has at least 25 clay tennis courts, several immaculately maintained sports ovals, running tracks, several indoor stadiums for gymnastics, dancing, basketball & volleyball, 4 huge swimming pools, 2 theatres (1 that seats 900 and a smaller one that only seats 600!). It has saunas, spas, its own ladies’ and men’s’ hairdressing salons, libraries, art galleries, card playing areas, about 15 restaurants/cafes/takeaway food stalls. The crème de la crème was the most magnificent ballroom I have ever seen in my life. It was here that we danced Israeli Folk Dancing with approximately 60 members of the Sao Paulo community.

After an unforgettable afternoon at the “Hebraica”, we were driven to the airport and whilst waiting for our flight, formed a circle and danced in the airport lounge, gathering a few curious spectators. We boarded a plane for an overnight stay at the magnificent Iguassu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.

After touring Manaus, Salvador, Recife and Rio de Janeiro with the Brazilula group, Sam and I flew out to Santiago in Chile, Colonia in Uruguay, then followed with 2 weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here, I met up with Raquel London, a phenomenal teacher whom I had befriended at dance camps in London (Machol Europa) and New York (Hora Keff). Naturally Raquel took me to several Israeli dance classes. I also went to a Salsa workshop and participated in Argentinean Tango lessons ……but that’s another story!

As a post script – following our trip, my husband Sam expressed some interest in learning to dance – he was so inspired from watching. He knew how much fun he had missed out on by not being a participant. So in April 2001, he finally agreed to start learning partner dancing in my partner class (as a complete beginner to Israeli dancing) and in February 2003, he commenced beginners circle dancing as well. I am delighted to say that Sam was a keen participant in the Machol Miami workshop in December 2005!

As a further postscript, I have to sadly announce that Raquel London passed away in September 2005 after a long illness. Raquel will be very much missed not only in Argentina, but also by all her friends around the world. I am very grateful to have known her.
Richelle Arber”


Richelle started Israeli dancing in Melbourne, in September 1992. Her passion for Israeli dancing started very slowly, as she was a self-confessed poor beginner. She did not dance for most of 1993, but returned to regular classes after a Chanukah party where she was exposed to Advanced level dancing for the first time. After that, her passion was ignited, and there was no stopping her! To gain dancing experience, she attended dance classes at all the Israeli dance clubs in Melbourne.
She has had experience teaching all levels of dancing for over 10 years. Since 1995, she has frequently traveled to Israel for the Karmiel Dance Festival as well as to New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Argentina & Brazil, for various Israeli Dance Camps and Workshops. On each visit to Israel, she attends numerous dance sessions, throughout the country, led by different choreographers/teachers.  In 2003 she attended and graduated from a 10 day Foreign Israeli Dance Teachers’ Course held at Karmiel, Israel. In April 2005 she was approached to conduct a workshop in Perth, Western Australia, where she successfully taught the appreciative group, 12 dances on her own.She has volunteered her services to Jewish care for over 2 years where she taught a very small but enthusiastic group of dancers on a weekly basis. She has recently also choreographed performances for Local Council events.In the late 1990’s, Richelle was selected to become a member of “Shalom” semi-professional & very disciplined performing group, which regularly performed at Bar Mitzvahs, weddings etc. “Shalom” also performed on stage at the Melbourne Concert Hall for the Yom Ha’atzmaut Concert. She has also had years of experience performing as part of a dance troupe in various local community events such as “In One Voice”, Glen Eira Council Park Performances, Bayley House, Emmy Monash and several others.
For her own enjoyment and development of her professional skills, she has also attended courses in belly dancing, salsa and ballroom, Argentine Tango, Bollywood, and ballet classes. All of the skills that she has acquired at these classes, she uses to teach her students. 


 Richelle’s website is:

NOTE: This “Brazilula” excerpt and bio have been reprinted with permission of Richelle Arber.


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