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Ruth Eshel

Ruth Eshel, an authority on the development of Israeli dance, is the author of Dancing With the Dream: The Development of Artistic Dance in Israel 1920–1964. Her doctoral thesis at Tel Aviv University was on Movement Theater in Israel 1976–1991. A pioneer of fringe dance in Israel, she choreographed and danced in solo performances of experimental dance between 1977 and 1986. She edited the Hebrew quarterly Dance in Israel from 1993 to 1998 and since 2000 has been editor of the quarterly Dance Now. Since 1991 she has served as dance critic for the daily Ha’aretz newspaper. She is artistic director and choreographer of Eskesta Dance Theater, which draws its inspiration from the culture of Ethiopian Jewry, and she has published many articles on the community’s dance. She is a lecturer at Haifa University.

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Oshra Elkayam-Ronen

Oshra Elkayam-Ronen, who belongs to the pioneer generation of Israeli movement theater, is one of the important Israeli choreographers in this style. One can discern two main theoretical topics in her work: questions about the nature of life, and the relationship between men and women. She maintains that she feels like a human being who has been cast into the world, searching for a place to hold on to. She sees life as a paradox but at the same time has a drive to create, ambition to realize herself, “to climb on the ladders”—all of which require incessant pursuit. “The only permanent element that cannot be stopped,” she maintains, “is time, which acts like a local train going through a series of life stations that lead in the end to an unattained goal.” Her work appears as if it were immersed in a pool of fantasy, humor and optimism.

Dance in the Yishuv and Israel

Until 1920, dance—like other artistic activities—was virtually nonexistent in Palestine, then a neglected province of the Ottoman Empire. The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (founded in 1906) operated in Jerusalem, while Tel Aviv had two modest music conservatories, Shulamit (founded in 1910) and Beit Ha-Levi’im (founded in 1914). Attempts were also made to set up small symphony orchestras and amateur theater, but these soon folded. There were no dance or drama schools or even auditoriums. Under the more liberal administration of the Mandate for Palestine given to Great Britain by the League of Nations in April 1920 to administer Palestine and establish a national home for the Jewish people. It was terminated with the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.British Mandate which went into effect in 1920, waves of immigration increased until, by the middle of the 1920s, the Jewish population reached about ninety thousand. (There were 83,790 Jews in Palestine according to the first British census in 1922). The character of immigration also changed: while previously most of the immigrants had been young idealists who arrived as individuals, most of those who arrived during the third Lit. "ascent." A "calling up" to the Torah during its reading in the synagogue.aliyah (1919–1923) were entire families, primarily from eastern Europe. They increased the population in urban settlements, built on the sands of Tel Aviv, and gave momentum to the development of the arts, particularly dance.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Eshel." (Viewed on September 16, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/eshel-ruth>.

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