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Israeli folk dancing

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Israeli folk dancing is a form of dance usually performed to music from Israel, with specific dances choreographed to specific songs.

The exact definition of Israeli folk dancing is debatable. The word folk has customarily been used to describe this kind of Israeli dancing because many of the dances are of a folk style reminiscent of dances from Eastern Europe or other parts of the Middle East. In addition to being influenced by folk dances from surrounding countries, many Israeli folk dances are also influenced by modern ballet. Also, unlike traditional folk dances from other countries that have usually been handed down from previous generations to the next and are without known creators, and perhaps even without documentation related to the particulars of a given dance or even specific music, Israeli folk dancing has come to life approximately in conjunction with the modern State of Israel. New dances have been created and introduced almost continuously in the more than 60 years since independence. In most of the dances, it is known who the creator is, and the dances are almost always associated with a specific piece of music.

Originally, Israeli folk dances were introduced as way to create a new culture in an old-new land, by combining elements from other dance cultures with the music and themes of modern Israel. Most of these dances were created specifically to be danced in Israel by Israelis, young and old, as a way of celebrating the spirit of the new country. Others were created for professional or semi-professional performing dance groups. Over time, these dances have been embraced not only in Israel but throughout the world.

Israeli folk dancing is similar to country-western line dancing in the U.S. as they have both a fixed and repeating choreography or set of steps that go with a specific piece of music. A yotzer is a dance creator who selects a particular piece of music, usually Israeli, and arranges a set of steps to fit with that music. The formation of the dance might be a circle, or perhaps couples, or trios or short lines. Or it might be a group/line formation as in country-western line dancing. A dance's tempo may be fast or slow.

The movements themselves are quite varied. One might find elements with their roots in the Romanian horo, or the Arab dabke, or from traditional Yemenite life cycle celebrations, or perhaps from the Klezmer music and dancing of Eastern European Jews. Or perhaps the movements are more modern, borrowed from swing or salsa or even hip-hop.

Temani

The Temani dance is a dance that was danced by Jews before Israeli Independence. In Jewish Music, songs to dance the Temani are very popular in Israel. Forms of dance evolved that are based on stationary hopping and posturing, such as can be done in a confined space.It consists of three steps, with a short pause on the final step ("quick, quick, slow"). There are several variations: The Temani step can be done forward or back, and right or left.

Horah

The horah is a circle dance in Israel, and has been danced for many generations by Jews since well before Israeli independence. This same name applies to the circle dance that is the national dance of Romania. The horah is the unofficial king of Jewish and Israeli folk dances. It can be performed to many of the traditional klezmer and Israeli folk songs, and is typically danced to the music of Hava Nagila.

Worldwide Israeli folk dancing

The global popularity of Israeli folk dancing has gone from being something led as a hobby or a pastime by a relative few markidim (Hebrew for dance leaders) to a thriving recreational business in Israel, and to a lesser extent, a similar activity in numerous countries throughout the world. Israeli folk dancing has also seen the rise of numerous yotzrim (Hebrew for dance creators/choreographers) who regularly create new dances for the enjoyment of the worldwide market of Israeli folk dancers.

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