THE DEVELOPMENT OF FOLKLORE IN ISRAEL
When we come to talk about folklore, we have to ask ourselves what are the roots of out folklore.
What influenced the development of our folklore?
How much has the environment reflected itself in the folklore of our country?
Who decided which songs and dances would represent the culture of the people?
Israel is a new country. Even though we are so young, we have our own folklore. This is made up of the dance and songs and folklore that many immigrants brought with them.
During the last century, Zionist pioneers came to settle in the country and to farm the land. In the evenings, they relaxed together around a fire, told stories, sang and danced. From this, the Hora developed. It is the most famous Israeli dance. Out of this period, many songs were born. Songs about building the country, working the land, courtship between boys and girls and the warmth and love of the people. Many of these pioneers planted grapes and waited for the harvest. Songs grew up out of this way of life.
Many immigrants came in the 1950's. They came from all over the world - from Europe, Asia, North and South Africa, the Americas and the Middle East.
They brought with them their traditions, culture and folklore. And even today, we can taste their foods and watch them sing and dance in their colorful costumes.
Each group expresses its own customs in their song and dance.
The Yemenites: Their costumes are mostly black with colorful embroidery. The women dance modestly and they cover their eyes. The men are more lively and they leap into the air. The only music you hear is the beat of a metal drum.
The North African People: Their costumes are black combined with green, blue and red. The women dancers are famous for their belly dances and they cover their eyes (faces) with scarves. The men's movements are freer and more open. These peoples used to write and sing lyrical poetry. They accompany their songs and dances with stringed instruments and the typical North African drum.
Russia and the surrounding countries: The People who came from Russia and the surrounding countries brought with them their colorful costumes. Men and women dance together in a circle and their songs are melodic. They accompany their dancing with accordions. Some of the dances are for men only. The men show the strength in their legs by dancing on their knees.
The Israeli folklore scene developed from all of these Ethnic groups.
The Arab groups are another sector that we have in Israel. They are separated into Muslims, Bedouins and Christians. In addition there are also the Druse people who live in their own villages.
All of the Arab people dance the Debka, which means that they stamp their feet. This shows the power of the men. Most of the Arabic people were farmers and they believed that man can show his strength by his feet. Their music comes from the drum, the Darbuka. Song and dance has always played an important part in the daily lives of the Arabs. They sing in groups informally, at festivals and around the table.
The Bedouin dance reflects life in the desert, when they had to wander to care for their sheep. They dance with sticks, their clothes are black and they play a flute while shepherding the sheep. Only the men dance.
The Druse's dance shows the power of the man and his duty to take care of his wife and family. Only the men dance and they wear blue and white clothes.
The other Arab groups have different Debkas for men and women who dance together. They show the way of life in the village, working in the fields, courtship between boys and girls, happiness etc. They also perform the wedding ceremony.
In all these dances you will see the leader with a stick setting the rhythm for the group and there is dialog between the group and the leader exactly as it is
in their lives.
A popular pastime in Israel is community singing and folk dancing. People get together from all walks of life and from many different Ethnic backgrounds to sing and dance.
The multi-cultured life in Israel allows everyone to be part of this. Neighbors in apartment blocks that come from different countries dance side by side and enjoy the rhythm and beat that is Israeli folk dancing today.
In recent years, choreographers have designed dances based on steps taken from all the different Ethnic groups. They combine them with new Israeli songs to produce new dances.
Israeli folk-dance groups present Ethnic dances in their programs, as well as modern Israeli dances.
Israeli folk-song groups sing old and new songs and combine them with the new choreography. The young performers sing about their lives in Israel - the sea, summer, holidays, courtship and being free of responsibility. Their choreography is combined with large visual aids.
Songs grew up out of this way of life and the folk songs groups started to be a unique performances in variety situations in Israel.
In Israel you can find different ages of folk singing groups: adults, young people and children as well as different choreography on the stage.
International Folklore Israel represents dozens of folkdance and folksong groups; adults, youth and children. In their shows, they present the different Ethnic groups in Israel. They also perform the old and new dances that have been around ever since the State of Israel was established.
In addition, we also represent Arabic and Druse Folklore groups.
Each ensemble has a rich program with a high standard of choreography.
Many of our groups have already participated in festivals in Europe and received compliments for their shows and discipline.