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Dancing at the Academy

Studio at Jerusalem Academy of Music and DanceThis semester, in addition to taking academic classes at the Rothberg International School, I also dance at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD), similar to at my home university. I enjoy that balance of time in the classroom and in the studio. Every day of the week I have a twenty-minute commute to Givat Ram, the other Hebrew University campus for dance. The dance classes that I chose are quite varied. There are the standard ballet and modern technique classes, and I take contact improvisation, release technique, Gaga movement classes, Batsheva repertory, and repertory with an emerging Israeli choreographer. The latter of these classes not only interested me, but I don’t get the chance to take them back at home.

Dancing in a different country, especially one like Israel, is a unique and rewarding experience. I am exposed to different teachers and choreographers, which is challenging and engaging in a new way. Israeli modern dance is currently thriving and evolving; this program gives me the opportunity to study and live in a place where the arts are developing. I have the chance to see well-known modern dance companies perform, like Batsheva Dance Company, Vertigo, and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

One difficult aspect is that in classes with a small percentage of international students, the class and discussions are in Hebrew. Although the teacher mostly translates, there are moments that I miss due to the language barrier. However, I am continuing with my Hebrew studies at RIS, so I am learning more and more. In dance class, it is interesting to see what Hebrew I can pick up and if I can infer what the teacher is saying from my knowledge of dance, or from looking at their facial expressions and body language. The language barrier has made it not just physically challenging, but also mentally; however, since movement is such a universal language, I haven’t had too much difficulty figuring out what I am supposed to be doing in class. If I ever feel lost, most of the Israeli students are always inviting and quick to give a helping hand in translating Hebrew into English.

Lihong dancing

I am curious to see how these classes progress. I’m already feeling challenged by the classes, and the teachers are engaging. It is always exciting to be in a new environment dancing with the Israeli students and learning from different teachers. As the semester goes on, I think the classes will only get harder and more challenging.

It has been invigorating, and I am up for the challenge of what this semester has to offer!

Fun Facts about Jerusalem

  • 874,000 residents
  • 2,000+ active archaeological sites
  • 50+ churches, 33 mosques, and 300 synagogues
  • 60+ museums
  • 1,500+ public parks and gardens
  • Some of the olive trees in Jerusalem are more than 800 years old.
  • There are more than 26 wineries in and around Jerusalem.
  • There are more than 50 Christian churches, 33 Muslim mosques, and 300 Jewish synagogues in the city.
  • Jerusalem hosts more than 30 annual festivals for everything from opera to film and from books to wine tasting, the most in all of Israel.
  • Jerusalem hosts Israel’s second-largest Pride parade, which draws more than 25,000 marchers.
  • Jerusalem has over 2,000 archeological sites.
  • There are 90 hotels in Jerusalem hosting over 9,000 hotel rooms.
  • There are over 6,000 species of plants in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.
  • Jerusalem has 1,578 public gardens and parks

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