The Impact of Dance Videos

Jackie and I got married in 1980. We did some Israeli dances at our wedding. This one might have been Marhaba, by Moshiko.

Before our wedding, our photographer tried to up-sell us on a new technology, called videography. That meant he would take a movie of our wedding, not just still pictures. This idea seemed too exotic, and we declined. Of course, within a few years, video cassette recorders (VCRs) and home video cameras were standard items in middle-class households.

Of the four choreographers whose dances dominated our 1970s repertoire, only Moshiko was based in Israel. The other three--Moshe Eskayo, Dani Dassa, and Shlomo Bachar--were all based in the United States.

In the early 1980s, the rate of new dance creation rose rapidly and the center of gravity in Israeli dance choreography shifted back to Israel. That this took place around the same time as the adoption of the VCR may be no coincidence. Dance videos made it easier for new dances to travel long distances. Israeli choreographers no longer had to tour America in order to get their dances adopted in America.

When dance teaching videos were made, the buyers were mostly session leaders. A session leader could buy a dance video, learn a dance, and then introduce it at his or her session.

With the advent of YouTube, the pace of change has ratcheted up. Now it's not just session leaders who are accessing dance videos. Participants at all levels of knowledge are looking at dance videos on YouTube. This has changed the teaching process.

As with many other trends in Israeli dance, this works against the casual dancer. The dancers who make the most use of videos are the more committed dancers.

I hope that we see more live video events involving Israeli dancing. Imagine a session being held simultaneously in two cities, with participants in one city able to see the dancers in the other city on a large screen. Perhaps this could enable cities where sessions only can attract about a dozen dancers get some of the feeling of a bigger session. This would especially be true if the video is projected on several screens, so that you can copy off the dancers in the distant session.

Other essays in this series