Saturday, February 4, 2012

Miriam the Prophetess and Her Gift of Dance

This past Shabbat, in synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people read about Exodus' mega-miracle that climaxed the ten previous miraculous plagues that G-d brought upon Egypt. This week's miracle (totally Cecile B. DeMille times 10,000) was the Splitting of the Sea. Moses held out his staff and the children of Israel walked through the sea on dry land.
After the Jewish nation passed safely through the alleyway of water, the Egyptians pursued them, but were drowned when the waters returned to their proper place.
Moses and the Israelites sang a song of praise to G-d, a symphony of revelation and glory. Then "Miriam the prophetess, sister of Aaron, took the drum (tambourine) in her hand and all the women went forth after her with drums and with dances." (Exodus 15:20)
As a dancer and producer of dance extravaganzas, I want to personally thank Miriam, the prophetess, for giving women of every generation DANCING GENES. Her dance at the side of the sea with the women of Israel beside her and around her embedded on our national soul (or perhaps the national soles of our feet) the characteristic of dancing at life's pivotal moments - at a wedding, a simcha (joyous occasion), even at a demonstration.
On this past Thursday night at Parent-Child learning, Rabbi David Marcus asked the children how the women knew Miriam's dance. My granddaughter and I discussed the question, and I suggested that when people are very happy, even small babies, they just naturally get up and do a happiness dance. I know that I surely do. :) Perhaps that's what Miriam did. She and the women were so full of happiness, they naturally danced.
My granddaughter laughed, but she wasn't sure that was the right answer, so she asked Rabbi Marcus himself.
His answer surprised me. Rabbi Marcus said that while the Jewish people were in Egypt, Miriam was very busy. She spent her time heartening the women, advising them to put on make-up, encouraging them to give support and love to their husbands and families. And she raised their spirits by teaching them to dance. Yes, Rabbi Marcus said, Miriam choreographed dances for the women in Egypt and taught the dances to them in order to keep their morale high.
My granddaughter liked that answer, and I did too. Miriam was a prophetess after my own heart.
Thinking of the women of Egypt working on dances together for the benefit of each other's morale and heart was a very beautiful idea.
Miriam's Descendants
For the past three months, about 100 women and girls in Efrat and Gush Etzion have been rehearsing for the latest season of DAMES of the DANCE - working on more than a dozen dances to express their creativity, to feel the empowerment and joy of dance, and especially to raise money for the needy through their dance.
The women and teens of DAMES of the DANCE thank our ancestress Miriam for bestowing upon us the internal and eternal love of dance, for handing down to our choreographers the talent and the vision to design such inspirational and unique dances.
The women of DAMES are proud to be in a line of dancing women that stretches far far back and hopefully far far forward.
DAMES of the DANCE performs on February 26, 28, March 1 and 5. All profits from the show go to feed the needy for the Passover holidays through the Gush Etzion Foundation.
If you're in Israel at the end of February and would like to come to the show, you can order your tickets here: .
It will be a terrific show, IY"H, and it's for a great cause.
Here's an idea what we're all about through a previous year's clip about DAMES of the DANCE:

DAMES photo by Rebecca Flash Kowalsky,

1 comment:

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