Ethiopian Jewish Dance Troupe
October 27, 2006
to Perform at Springfield College
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 27, 2006 – The Beta Dance Troupe of Haifa, Israel will perform traditional Ethiopian Jewish dance, mixing elements of Ethiopian tribal dances and artistic dance of Ethiopian Jewry, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006, at 8 p.m., in Springfield College’s Appleton Auditorium of Fuller Arts Center.
Dancers will perform mostly eskesta, the Ethiopian traditional dance in which shoulders undulate and dancers gain speed and intensity. The unusual dance style is rarely seen in the United States. The dancers will perform to contemporary music and African rhythms with ancient spirituals chanted in Ge’ez, the sacred language of Ethiopian Jewry. Most dances will portray themes of exile and homecoming.
Beta dancers include the most accomplished members of the Eskesta Dance Group, who were students of Ethiopian origin studying at the University of Haifa in 1995. Most Beta dancers came to Israel as children during persecution and famine. They were airlifted from northern Ethiopia during Operation Moses in the late 1970s and early 1980s and from Addis Ababa during Operation Solomon in 1991. A Jewish community has existed in northern Ethiopia since pre-Christian times.
Founded by Dr. Ruth Eshel, who also founded the Eskesta Dance Group, The Beta Dance Troupe is on a six-week United States tour. The troupe also has performed in Europe, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and in various locations in the United States.
Open to the public free of charge, the program is cosponsored by Springfield College’s United Campus Ministry and Spiritual Life Center and the Anna P. Housen Israel Desk of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts.