I was eager to see how performing arts professionals deal with the theme of Creation. (Dames photos by Sari Tweeto above and left.)
I went to the Rebecca Crowne Auditorium of the Jerusalem Theater and took my seat. The music started and I was caught completely off guard. I had read the description of the show, "The Jerusalem Art Festival stages an exciting performance, charmingly and professionally done, presenting the story of the Creation in words, movement and sound. With singer Adam and the Hakol Patuah dance troupe, the special group of the Jerusalem Municipality's Arts Division. Direction, choreography and costumes: Momi Gil. Producer and troupe director: Sarah Sharabi." It sounded great... Exciting... Charming... Professional... Special. Nothing prepared me for how special it was. The Hakol Patuah dance troupe is a dance company of special-needs young people. When they first came on stage, I thought it was a mistake, or perhaps someone was being super nice and allowing these youngsters to open for the real show. I didn't know they were the real show. I should have been clued in that something special was happening around me when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Bareket walked in and sat in front of me. He stood up to speak, "The Jerusalem Arts Festival is part of our plan to make Jerusalem into a more attractive place for young people and culture; and to see the potential in Jerusalem. All those who participate in the Jerusalem Arts Festival contribute to the mosaic of Jerusalem." He added, "Hakol Patuah shows that everything is possible." I still did not understand. A voice began, "Bereishit barak Elokim..." (In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth.) The show began in earnest. (Courtesy photos from the show at left and below.)
Hakol Patuah Dance Company
"It was evening, it was morning, one day..." The special youngsters danced enthusiastically in all black (and later in every other color), waving wands of stars in the dark sky. They skipped in a circle shimmering their stars, and they smiled the biggest teethiest smiles possible. They were so ecstatic to show their friends and family (and Sharon Katz) how much they loved to perform and give of themselves to their audience. They were so filled with the freedom and joy of the moment, that at times, they just threw their arms out to the audience, jumped up and down, hugged one another, came right up front and flashed giant grins. Then they returned to their places on the dance floor, and everyone continued as if nothing unexpected had happened. Tears poured down my cheeks. I could not stop their flow. "Why are you crying? They are so happy," my daughter said. She was right. The performers were so filled with the joy of performing (I know exactly what that's like), they couldn't contain their excitement, and I had to work hard in my seat to contain my emotion too. Everyone in the theater was thrilled to see the performers on stage. The dancers and drummers were their children, siblings and friends. I was an accidental audience member, probably the only one not related to someone on stage. I had come into the theater expecting something else, and I received this tremendous gift of a show - I watched about 30 champions score a tremendous triumph with every completed dance. They danced the creation of the waters, the the sky, the birds and the animals. In brightly colored heart-dresses, they danced their love of life! The performers' smiles were as wide as the ocean, and their families' applause was thunderous and long. Famous Israeli singer Adam joined the kids for the second year in a row, as the voice of the Bible. He jumped on stage to sing about the fourth day of creation, and danced with the "stars". As the show's world was completed on the seven day, all the performers took the stage to sing and sway with Adam in the song, "It's a Wonderful World." The youngsters held each other's hands, hugged and sang along - young people with so many challenges and so many difficulties, and they were joyously singing "It's a wonderful world!" As the producer of a yearly dance extravaganza, I know what hard work, dedication, rehearsal discipline and stick-to-it-ness one needs to mount a production. For special-needs children, the effort must be 100 times mores. When the music ended, these special performers had achieved something extraordinary. Their family and friends cheered. So did I. Victory!