Meet the Dancing Rabbis of the Ka’et Contemporary Dance Ensemble


Mash-ups are not uncommon in the dance world: performers of various styles are known to share the stage, from ballerina Tiler Peck and famous clown Bill Irwin to Michelle Dorrance, who mixes up tappers and break-ups. dancers. Likewise, collaborations between choreographers and artists from seemingly discordant disciplines have given birth to magical creations, such as that of Alexei Ratmansky. Whipped cream, featuring the whimsical and even grotesque designs and costumes of Mark Ryden.

But Israeli troupe Ka’et Contemporary Dance Ensemble has found success in one of the most unlikely partnerships: contemporary secular choreographer Ronen Itzhaki is creating a movement for a group of rabbis and practicing men.

The International Fine Art Fund, a non-profit organization that highlights artists from around the world, recently visited Ka’et during rehearsals in Israel. This five-minute documentary is a testament to Itzhaki’s unconventional work and the movement’s power to unite and nurture beyond religious divisions.

In the video, Itzhaki explains how the group came about: When he was a young choreographer in Tel Aviv, a group of religious men invited him to work with them. Although he didn’t know much about Judaism other than popular culture, he agreed. “They paid me and I had to make a living,” he says. Itzhaki then admits that it only took him 10 to 15 minutes to fall in love with them.

“Usually people think in boxes,” he says, “like ‘I’m a religious man’ or ‘I’m a choreographer. I live in Tel Aviv.’ And in Israel there are very clear boxes … So when I met these people, I met people who live off the beaten track and think outside the box. I was touched by that. .

While an abstract art form may seem at odds with the disciplined life of a rabbi, Itzhaki says Ka’et allowed men to respectfully explore their limits. “Because the dancers are very religious, and because they like their Jewishness… they can play with it,” he says.

The troupe also brings contemporary dance into the Orthodox community. The members of the company are not only deeply religious men who want to memorize dance movements, but artists whose performances are full of emotion, humanity and striking beauty.

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