Dancers, we are taking a break and will resume zoom dancing at 7 p.m. Wednesday May 26. Limor Shapira, who used to lead our group, has resumed leading live in person dancing in Israel. But I have not heard of local groups meeting in person, other than a few meeting outside (where the dance surface is an issue). When we come back I’d like to have a Yemenite section of the playlist, as we did with Ladino and Spanish.
The Yemenite Jewish community dates from Biblical times. Though throughout history there were small groups migrating back to Jerusalem, between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen’s Jewish population was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. The culture they preserved for so many years is rare in its richness. and transformed Israeli culture, particularly in music and dance.
The Yemenite dance is a functional dance, as it is danced in familial and religious ceremonies -and not for fun.
The dance is inseparable from the singing, which is mostly taken from the “Diwan”, a collection of poems in which the majority were written by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, the greatest of Yemenite Jewry’s poets. Jews in Yemen were not allowed musical instruments, and the only accompaniment was artful tapping on oil cans. Yemenite Jewry is not one group. Jews lived in various regions of Yemen and every region had its typical songs, dances and customs.
We recognize that many of the Israeli folk dances we do are based on Yemenite songs and steps, but dancers have asked me if there is any archival footage of traditional Yemenite dancing outside of the recreational and choreographed dances we learn. So I am posting links to videos that i have found that demonstrate various Yemenite styles and steps.
A documentary in English noted for the appearance of a young Margalit Oved Marshal about 2 minutes in. She’s not credited in the end, even though the credits are rolling over her dancing! Boo!
This is a performing group in Israel, — but they are dedicated to presenting dances realistically, not theatrically.
Women dancing, an exhibition but without modern theatrics.
Yemenite steps are particularly clear in this demonstration.