Yaron Malichi

(photo by Alex Huber)

Yaron Malichi brings his playful, passionate energy to Israeli folk dancing.  He creates lively, fun dances, as well as slow, smooth ones.  In this exclusive interview,  Daughter Of The Arts caught up with Yaron in the U.S.  He candidly shared with us some of his feelings about his commitment to his art.

DOTA:  Where did you grow up?

YM:  I grew up in Hadera. It is a city between Tel Aviv and Haifa. 

DOTA:  What was your first dancing experience?

YM:  I started dancing with Meir Shem Tov when I was 8 years old in school.  For a couple of years I danced Latin and Salsa dancing. Now I’m dancing only Israeli dancing.

DOTA: When did you start choreographing Israeli folk dances?

YM:  I danced in Meir’s session.  I told him that I wanted to be a teacher. I got a certificate from the school.

DOTA: What was the first Israeli folk dance that you choreographed?

YM: I tried for a couple of years before, but with “Al Salsalim” (1998) I had something that people wanted to dance.  “Al Salsalim” was the first dance that I did that people started to know about me. People started to know that I was the choreographer. Dudu Barzilai brought it  outside of Israel, to Europe and the United States. 

Yaron (left)  Dudu Barzilai (right)
(photo by Alex Huber, Machol Hashalom 2005 July Lile France

DOTA:  Did anyone have an important influence on you?

YM: Meir is a good teacher, and has a lot of experience.  I also danced with him in a performance group.  What I am teaching (and choreographing) now, it’s me, my character.  I decided to do this on my own.

DOTA:  Which  dances were most fun for you to create?

YM:  It is difficult to say.  There are a few dances that are OK for me.  A few of them, I like very much.   Each dance I made  in a different time in my life. Sometimes I like dancing “Al Salsalim,” sometimes “Gever Mistageah,”  sometimes “Malkat Hachatanunot.”  It’s like a “baby.” You don’t like one better than another!

Yaron with Dudu and Eyal Eliyahu  – see Daughter Of The Arts interview with Eyal in Archives, Edition 2, Vol. 2
(photo by Alex Huber, Machol Hashalom 2005 July Lile France)

DOTA:  Do any of your dances have a special meaning to you?

YM:  Only “Malach Sheli” (partner, 2004) I made it for my girlfriend. Her name is Shavit,  Shavit means a comet, “star.” In the song it says, “kochav shebi,” kochav is a star.  (He sings the lyrics), “At hamalach sheli, ani ohev otach. At hakochav shebi,” you are the star inside me.   I made this dance for her.  She made it with me.

DOTA:  Why is it important to you to create dances, and to dance?

YM: This is my life.  Dancing, has been my life, since I can remember. Don’t think that I can’t do something else, I can. But, I don’t see myself stopping dancing.  For me it is like part of my life; I wake up in the morning, I hear music, and I make a dance and I go dancing. This is what I think I am good at.  No explanation. Simply, my life.  I think I bring something from myself.  Dancing is like eating, drinking.  I need to dance.

(photo by Alex Huber, Machol Hashalom 2005 July Lile France)

DOTA: What do you think is an important issue in Israeli folk dancing right now?

YM:  I think now we have a little problem. Maybe I’m part of this. In most of my dances, I have special (steps.)  Maybe it’s difficult for some people. But I can’t do dances so simple, because all the other dances look the same.  The choreographers need to be thinking more. I don’t think that they give from inside themselves to make a special step.  They hear the music, they make a step, combine together, OK, they call it a dance. Maybe it’s difficult to teach them.  But, we need to do it, because, I don’t know where  dancing is going now. Sometimes, everything looks the same. This is not what I’m thinking. I want the choreographers  to make something more interesting than what happens now in Israeli folk dancing and trust the people who dance.

(photo by Alex Huber, Machol Hashalom 2005 July Lile France)

DOTA: Why do you think this is happening?

YM:  It started because a lot of people who make Israeli folk dances, know that they can dance, dance well, know a lot of dances.  They think maybe they can be a teacher. They say, “OK, I can make a career of dancing, it’s no problem. It’s really not a problem to make a simple step.  You take it from here and there and put it together, and make a dance.”  But, it’s not a dance. Even a child, 10-years- old can do it.  If you combine steps, you don’t need to think. 

Sometimes it’s because choreographers coming to the United States or Europe, need to make dances.  They make a dance and go, because they need the music.  I know it because I have the same pressure to do it.

Sometimes I’m not so happy with what I’m doing. Sometimes,  I make it simple for the people, but after that I’m sorry. I don’t want to give up and think so much about others, but to think about the dance. 

DOTA: Why are there so many simple, similar dances?

YM:   The teachers may be a little bit lazy.  It’s easy for them not to teach a difficult dance.  They can teach it only once, two times.  People dance it, and don’t need them in the circle.  If you teach something a little more complicated, you need to stay in the center and repeat it.  It’s easy to teach a simple dance, people don’t need to think.

 Sometimes, when I’m dancing, I make a mistake because I dance a different step and different song, because they are so much alike.

(photo by Alex Huber, Machol Hashalom 2005 July Lile France)

DOTA: Is there a problem when a song is popular on the radio in Israel, and a dance is created. Soon the song isn’t popular so the dance fades away?  

YM: Yes.  Like “Simanim.”  It’s a nice dance. I don’t think it’s so simple.  But people are crazy about it. The song is a hit on the radio.  People sing it all the time.  I don’t know if the dance is as good as  the music.  It’s not just “Simanim,”
I use that as an example.  There are a lot of dances like that where it is the music that is a hit.  I prefer to use music that is not a hit.

DOTA: Do you teach a  class now?

YM:  Yes, I have a session in Kokhav Ya’ir, it’s near to Kfar Saba.

DOTA:  How is the dance community different in Israel as compared to Europe and the United States?

YM:  The people here (United States) are more serious. First of all, they have a lot of respect for the choreographer outside of Israel.  They give you respect for what you are doing.  In Israel, it is not such a big deal.  This is Israeli character.  It is sad, but that’s the way it is.

Link to List of dances of Yaron Malichi at:

Link to Video of Yaron dancing Al Salsalim
video  courtesy of Leon Balaban

Link to lyrics for Malach Sheli

Link to Video of Yaron leading his Malkat Hachatunot

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