History of Israeli Folk Dance

Abstracted from an e-mail from Haim Kaufman concerning the history and origins of Israeli dancing.

First of all, there are dances of the Halutzim (pioneers) whose roots go back to adaptations of Eastern European dances (e.g., Hora, Krakoviak, Troika, Korobushka, Polka), some of which were introduced by the Socialist-Zionists during the Second Aliyah period (approximately 1905-1914), when the first Kibbutzim (communal farms) were established. Hora Aggadati is possibly the first true Israeli folk dance, whose origins date back to 1924 based on movements created by Baruch Aggadati, a noted Israeli dancer of that period. The dance as we know it today was adapted by Gurit Kadman (considered the “mother” of Israeli folk dance) back in the 1940′s.

Another well known Israeli dance, Mayim (water), was created in 1938 to commemorate the discovery of water at Kibbutz Na’an after a 10 year search. The first folk dance festival was held at Kibbutz Dalia in 1944, where dances of the Halutzim were performed as well as other Eastern European Jewish dances such as the Sherele and the more recently emerging folk dances of local origin, such as Mayim and Kol Dodi. More folk dances of local origin were performed at the second Kibbutz Dalia dance festival in 1947 (e.g., Debka Rafiach, Harmonika, Hava Nitze b’machol, Ken Yovdu, Mechol Ovadia). By the third Dalia festival in 1951, Israeli folk dance was well established with many other classic dances (e.g., Bat Yiftach, Be’er Basadeh, Debka Gilboa) already part of the repertoire. Typically, the classic Israeli folk dances were connected with various celebrations festivals and historical events.

We do many of these dances in our group.