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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Israeli dancers get ‘together’

Published: October 8, 2010
Section: Features

Micky Waks ’13 is loud, crazy and energetic, and she recently became the president of B’yachad, Brandeis’ semi-professional Israeli Dance Troupe.

B’yachad is among the groups performing this year at the Fall Fest Variety Show, which will also feature a cappella groups and other dance groups.

Waks, who is originally from the Boston area, did Israeli dancing in junior high and high school, and chose to come to Brandeis partly because of the prestigious group. She’s not alone, saying that many of the group’s 15 members also danced in high school.

According to Waks, the semi-professional part of the group’s name is because they often travel to Israeli dance festivals and have been paid to perform.

“I joined B’yachad because I did Israeli dance in high school and I wanted to continue in college,” Rachel Feldman ’11 said. “It was more of a challenge starting out than I expected, but I feel like I’ve become a better dancer because of the effort and quality expected of me in B’yachad.”

That expectation certainly adds to B’yachad’s recognition. B’yachad is a serious commitment, and several members make sacrifices to fit six hours of rehearsal into their schedules each week.

During rehearsal, B’yachad spends most of its time going over choreography from the week before and learning new steps. Throughout the year, the group learns six pieces: the opener, which they will perform at Fall Fest, suite, a five-minute dance performed at festivals, and four shorter pieces.

Jennie Berger ’12, B’yachad’s choreographer, created the opener for Fall Fest by choosing a song and making up original choreography. For the four shorter songs, other dancers get the learning experience of choreographing.

“B’yachad’s dance style is a mix of traditional Israeli dancing such as the Hora, dabke and Yemeni steps, with more contemporary styles such as modern and jazz,” Berger said.

“Everyone has different styles and we usually do Jennie’s because she’s the choreographer,” Waks said, “but I love seeing everyone else’s styles when they get to choreograph.”

Berger also choreographs suite, the dance performed at Israeli dance festivals. At those festivals, the group performs among groups ranging in age from child to adult and spends a good deal of their time just hanging out with each other.

“We’re a really close, tight-knit group of people who have a lot of fun together,” Waks said.

The group dynamic has changed drastically since last year, when it was all female. Now there are two boys, according to dancer Missy Mandell ’13, who expressed excitement about the newfound variety.

B’yachad dancers also hang out together outside of rehearsals and performances. “A bunch of us went salsa dancing once last year, just because we wanted to,” Waks said.

“Sometimes we joke that we’re a cult because we’re super obsessed with each other,” she added.