Dancing the “Day Of Atonement”. The Use Of Visual Texts for Teaching Choreographic Principles and Imparting Jewish Values


Source: Studia Universitatis Moldaviae, 2015, nr.9(89) p. 147-151 


This paper is part of a larger study that set out to explore the pedagogical tools used by religious teachers in order to convey – through dance – traditional messages which cultivate a sense of communal belonging and shape the identity of the student, thereby bridging the tension between dance and the way it is perceived by traditional religious Judaism. I will analyze one class in which the teacher used visual art to weave choreographic principles into the learning of tradition and how the visual text serves as a cultural message around which the teacher structures a dance piece, simultaneously creating and conveying dance content knowledge and knowledge of the tradition.


The research is based on ethnography in schools as institutions engaged in imparting culture and passing it down to their constituencies.The researcher's goal was to explore how dance is taught at religious schools, how dance education represents and reflects national religious society and culture. From my observations I also obtained a picture of the choreographic practices teachers create using visual art and how these practices create or reproduce tradition. I analyze a choreographic composition created for girls studying in a religious elementary school. The composition was inspired by the painting "Jews at Prayer in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur" by Maurycy Gottlieb. The presentation of this composition created in class conveys insights that I have come by throughout my research and represents a broader phenomenon. The study seeks to shed light on the meeting point between two poles: teaching choreographic principles and imparting Jewish values thus, the understanding of an individual instance illustrates a recurring teaching practice in use in this cultural context of dance teaching in a Jewish religious setting.

Updated: Dec. 30, 2015