Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

First Event: The Intersection of Dance, Religion, and Culture

There is exciting news! I have officially come up with a date for the first dance, religion, and culture event. It is scheduled for Thursday, November 8, 2012, from 7-8:30 PM. It will be at the Indiana Interchurch Center, located at 1100 West 42nd Street (near Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary for anyone who is a student either place!)

I wanted to relay a bit more information about the event and what it includes. The flyer with the basics is attached above. The event will feature Arabic dance and also Israeli/Jewish dance. The format of the event will include a short introduction to the type of dance and how it melds together with religious elements and the culture it comes from. Next, the teacher will teach a short, simple phrase or two of their type of dance. The audience will get to learn and practice this movement, creating an interactive, hands on experience. Actually experiencing something, after all, is the best way to learn about another culture! After each dance tradition has its chance to be taught, we will have a period of question and answer time, including light refreshments. Overall it should be a very enjoyable evening!

I would like to also share more information about the dance teachers we are lucky enough to have for this event. Diana Najjar will teach the Arabic dancing. She is of Lebanese heritage; her grandparents came to the United States at the turn of the century. Her family is Christian, and this influences the dances; she was raised in the culture and therefore learned traditional dances from an early age through her church community. For 17 years, Najjar has been the choreographer for the dances at the Indianapolis Middle Eastern Festival. She is also the dance teacher at The Orchard School, where she uses her knowledge of dancing to teach a dance curriculum and also choreograph musicals and plays at the school. We are excited to have her bring her lifelong experience in Arabic dancing to our event!

We are also excited to bring in a teacher for Israeli dancing. Rhea McDonald has been doing Israeli Folk Dancing for over 25 years. As a teenager, she attended a camp in New York to become a folk dance instructor. She also studied under Fred Berk, the “father of Israeli Folk Dance in America,” for a summer in Israel. She has taught Israeli Folk Dance at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, Indiana University, The Oaks Academy, and the Bureau of Jewish Education. Currently, she teaches Israeli dancing at the Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis, Congregation Beth el Zedeck, and as an elective at Butler University. She is very accomplished in the teaching of Israeli dancing.

I hope everyone can make it to this event! It will be exciting and dynamic, and give the audience the chance to learn something new. Please see the flyer above and mark your calendars!


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