She Only Wants to Dance
It began seventeen years ago. I didn’t even know it was a thing when I started, even though I’d moved to Israel over twenty years before that. True, I’d seen people doing folk dancing occasionally – on summer evenings by the beach or in the streets on the eve of Independence Day. I had no idea how these people knew these dances and thought they probably learned them at school.
My daughter, the youngest of three, was almost six, and I was ready to finally venture out without kids and without having to wait for hubby to get home. An advertisement beckoned from a place near enough to walk to, a friend’s daughter was willing to babysit weekly and I went off to discover the world of Israeli folk dancing.
Boaz Cohen was my first dance instructor and he remains the one I like best. He’s a very patient teacher. He’s also full of life and his sessions have a more fun atmosphere than any of the others. (He didn’t ask me to say that.)
I learned lots of dances. I also learned that you never stop learning dances, because new dances are constantly being choreographed – to new songs and sometimes to old ones. So, apart from the enjoyment, this is what makes people keep going. If you stop dancing for a while and want to take it up again, it’ll be almost like starting from scratch because there will be so many dances you don’t know.
I began with the circle dances. That was enough for me for years. Occasionally I learned a line dance, but line dancing (which is mostly to foreign songs) wasn’t usually part of the sessions. Also occasionally, I learned a couple dance, but couple dancing requires a partner and I didn’t usually have one, until I did. About a year ago, I started with one dancing partner and later changed to another. My current partner is well over eighty and he practises yoga. And because I have a partner, I now dance about three times a week. It’s such fun and great exercise.
Nowadays, you can find people performing the same dances not only in this country but around the world. (If I sound like Nicholas Parsons there, I’m not surprised.) Israeli folk dancing groups can be found in countries like America and England, in several eastern European countries and even in Japan and China.
But dancing is not the only activity in my life. I like walking and reading, for instance. And writing – you knew that was coming, didn’t you? In my romance, Neither Here Nor There, published by Crooked Cat Publishing, the hero, who has recently emigrated from England, finds folk dancing a good way of integrating into Israeli society. The dancing itself doesn’t require language and provides something in common before the need to open your mouth.
In the story, he introduces the heroine – Esty – to dancing, but she finds she has to overcome something that’s holding her back. Couple dancing requires not only holding hands, but also hugging and holding round the waist. In the community in which Esty was raised and which she has just left, women and men don’t even touch each other unless they’re married.
This is just one of the many obstacles Esty has to tackle before she can say she has finally become part of the everyone-else, non-haredi world.
You can listen to me reading the first chapter of Neither Here Nor There HERE.
The title of this article refers to me, of course. It’s also the title of one of the latest dances. Here’s another one, in which I’m wearing a purple dress with a white waistband.
And One More Fact about Miriam
There are at least two author questions to which my answers are unusual:
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
What made you start writing?
My answers might appear in a subsequent article.
Neither Here Nor There is available from: