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Robert Abrams
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A Gift of Light

by Robert Abrams
December 18, 2003
Tishman Auditorium, New School University
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 229-5488

A Gift of Light

presented at the New School University
Tishman Auditorium
By Meli Zinberg in conjunction with
The New School University Cultural Diversity Initiative
and the Israeli Dance Institute
New York, New York

Robert Abrams
December 18, 2003

Chanukah got off to an auspicious start with A Gift of Light, an evening of dance performances by the Parparim Ensemble and guests.

The performances combined the best aspects of community theatre with a level of skill that requires dedication to one's craft that goes beyond what one normally expects of people who don't make their living from dance.

The evening was full of creative vignettes, such as the opening scene of a girl with a small wooden dreidel, followed by an adult dancer dancing inside of a dreidel the size of a big box. "The Story of the Latke" was especially creative, with pantomime, robots and even a latke tasting contest. "The Greening of the Light" has the distinction of being the only dance I have seen that successfully incorporated large irrigation pipes into the choreography.

The performances were characterized by enthusiastic ensemble work. Tamar Silton Epstein's choreography in "Etgar" was especially well crafted. It featured intricate footwork executed with confidence. At one point, the dancers formed a circular pattern with two orbits that then flowed into lines. This was just one example of the excellent way this work used the space.

While most of the dances were traditional Israeli folk dance, or were based on such traditions, the evening featured a range of dance styles as well. For instance, Danit Peled performed an impassioned and emphatic flamenco routine choreographed by Victorio Korjhan.

In addition to the adult dancers, the evening showcased Iristeps, a youth ensemble. They danced flowing choreography with confidence. In between the dance numbers, the audience was treated to the beautiful voice of Michal Cohen accompanied by Shai Bachar on the keyboard.

All in all, A Gift of Light was a fitting artistic tribute to the Holidays. It was enjoyable because the dancers were skillful, but just as important, it was enjoyable because the dancers cared about the story they were telling.

The Parparim Ensemble is directed by Ruth Goodman and is composed of Rachel Arcus, Yosi Baskin, Ilan Birnbaum, Osher Cohen, Leora Frankel, Inbal Gilad, Uriel Menson, Danit Peled, Alisha Sela, Iris Vachnoon, Meri Wallace, Ya'akov Weinbraub, Gali Wexler and Meli Zinberg. Iristeps is directed by Iris Vachnoon and is composed of Nerlynda Beauzile, Stephanie Jeter, Ellyshia Pereira, Christie Rafol, Melissa Trapani, Megan Valentin and Bryce Walker. The script was by Ruth Goodman and Shulamite Kivel. The dreidel construction was by Steven Weintraub with Mary Dixon and Nina Stein White. The lighting was by Joe Carny and Teague Clements. The sound was by Brian Kase, Sylvan Simon and Pedro Mallol.

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