Raised on dancing and Israeli folklore, Israeli folk dance choreographer and teacher David Edery has spent almost all of his life involved in nurturing and preserving the culture and treasure of Israeli Folk Dancing (IFD). He has supported and advanced awareness of IFD throughout the world.
Daughter Of The Arts caught up with Mr. Edery, in between his traveling engagements, to explore some of the passion and dedication he pours into his dances and teaching.
DOTA: Why did you first start choreographing dances?
DE: It was a natural step in my dancing career and development after so many years on stage. I came to folk dancing just like my friend Moshiko, from the stage and theatre performances. I saw dancing through “a different pair of glasses:” beautiful costumes, perfect steps and execution, dancing harmoniously. There was a need inside (me) for a contribution to the young movement of dancing in young Israel.
DOTA: What inspires you to choose certain music and create a dance?
DE: Most of the music I used for my dances was composed for me by my friend
Joseph Milo of Montreal and other composers. In selecting music, liveliness, tempo, unusual beat and composition are factors in selecting a song. I do not pay much attention to the lyrics.
DOTA: Eshkolit, which you choreographed in 1980, is a favorite partner dance at dance sessions. Why do you think it is so popular?
DE: There are several possible reasons:
– The dance was choreographed as a present to a girlfriend in Montreal; it is a love song (and dance) with very pleasant music and arrangements – (flute and guitar, violin.)
-A new combination of steps was introduced to Israeli folk dancing for the first time in this dance (right turn followed immediately by left turn). The dance does not follow typical ¾ measure.
-Finally, I think the choreography itself.
DOTA: There is a version of Eshkolit sung by Ofra Haza (Shirei Moledet 1985) Did you ever meet Ofra Haza?
DE: No, I never had a chance to meet her in person. When I was involved heavily in folk dancing performances, tours, movies and TV shows she was not a star yet.
DOTA: When you first heard the song Eshkolit, how did you
decide you wanted to make a dance to this music?
DE: When I choreographed the dance, the late Ofra Haza did not sing this song. I
had a very old recording with lyrics by Zeev Havatzelet, and gave it to Joseph
Milo, my composer, to re-record and arrange it with new instruments. He did an
DOTA: How did the song influence your choreography?
DE: As I mentioned before it is an allegory song about the fire of love between lovers. The word Eshkolit literally means a grapefruit. But Havatzelet understood it as two words “esh” (fire) and “kuli” (all of me) which means, “I am on fire” for my lover. The love song dictates the mood and the style of the dance (couples in this case), the tempo, the flow of steps, etc. I choreographed the dance on the idea of the loving relationship between a man and a woman. He follows one part, and she does in the second part to reflect the allegorical meaning of the song.
DOTA: What do you see as the difference in the trend of music chosen for dances today from when you started creating dances?
DE: Sadly the trend today is “a dance for every song,” regardless of style, origin of song etc, whether it is good or bad, meaningful or tasteless. It is a new world here in North America; the rest of the world, thank God, has not rushed yet to follow this trend. Perhaps (it is) because many of my friends, just like me, continue to work hard to preserve traditional and classic Israeli dances around the world. I believe this trend is temporary, certainly there is nothing wrong with it, and it will pass too. The love for meaningful songs and lyrics and beautiful dances, will win in the long run, better dances will rise soon.
DOTA: What do you see as the difference in the trend of dances created today from when you started creating dances?
DE: To follow the previous question, obviously the dances themselves are not much better than the music they were composed to. They are “cut and paste” type of dances, lacking imagination, creativity, and structure because they are bound by the music pattern and structure.
There are still a few choreographers who luckily continue to create their own music and steps and their creation is free from the constraints of the song and/or the singer.
The younger generation of choreographers mostly imitates one another, as if they all have sat around and discussed their dances. Steps are very much alike, identical in many cases, and lack the spirit of Israeli folklore. I believe there is a heavy influence of many foreign styles and steps in these dances, such as Latin America, and modern dance, often to the point that it is very difficult to name them “Israeli.”
Again, this will pass too; it is a temporary trend, and much like the music.
Many camps, classes and groups around the world are not interested in them. I would like to give more credit to the folk dancers themselves and their ability to judge which ones will stay or be gone.
DOTA: What is the best part of being a dance teacher?
DE: Knowing that you keep the flame of the culture of ancient Israel and the renewed State of Israel, and ignite more fires of love for Israeli Folk Dancing all over the world as I have done for the past 30 years.
I am honored and blessed to be a cultural attaché of the state of Israel, and share my love of Israeli folk dancing with so many non-Jews in so many countries. I enjoy the sight of hundreds of dancers so perfectly repeating a dance you have just taught, the joy and pleasure in their eyes, and happiness I bring to ordinary people with common interest around the globe.
That is my greatest reward, to be part of the family of folk dancers that spans
beyond any political, cultural or international borders.
DOTA: Where are you teaching now?
DE: I currently continue to travel to many of the countries I have been visiting for the past 25 years, to dance with second and even third generations of folk dancers who love Israeli music and dances. Camps, and particularly International folk dancing are still my favorites. I also have a dream of organizing an evening of “Golden” classical Israeli dances, (those I have learned many years ago from my colleagues the choreographers themselves) before they will be forgotten. We must preserve and practice these beautiful heritage dances, if not for ourselves, then for the sake of our children and the movement of Israeli folk dancing.
David “Sam” Edery, the son of a pioneer family in Israel, was raised on dancing and Israeli folklore. He began his performing career at the age of 11 at festivals in Jerusalem. At the age of 17, he joined the internationally acclaimed Hora Dance Group, and by 1971 had formed his own groups that represented Israel at International Dance Festivals throughout Europe for several years.
David graduated from the Ulpan in Jerusalem and the Rubin Dance and Music Academy special study program focusing on Israeli and ethnic choreography, stage management, and costume design. In 1975, he was the co-founder of the Folk Dancing Teachers’ Union in Israel.
For several years, David performed with the Hora Dance Group, the Hebrew University Dance Troupe, the Ensemble Folkore of Israel, and the Karmon Dancers. He participated in dance festivals and theatrical productions in more than 20 countries around the world and was a staff member at the Jerusalem Institute for Folk Dance Instructors. He also taught folk dancing at McGill University in Canada.
David has led seminars, workshops, and dance groups in locations including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. In 1985, he was honored by several groups in the Far East for distinguished contribution as a dance instructor.
Link for Les Posen’s Video page – David Edery dancing his Eshkolit (Ofra Haza singing)
Link for David Edery’s dances:
Site source: http://www.israelidances.com
David Edery teaching at Stockton Folk Dance Camp
Stockton Folk Dance Camp, in Stockton, California, in its 56th year, it takes place the last week of July and the first week of August, Sunday through Saturday
David Edery produced the record album “Kalanit,” in 1980. KALANIT, the Hebrew name for the beautiful wild flower which blossoms throughout Israel, is the second record produced by choreographer David Edery, in conjunction with musician and composer Joseph Milo. The album contains Eshkolit and other dances of D. Edery
David Edery teaching Israeli folk dancing to groups of dancers in Japan.