Anything but routine

Mexican Jewish dance group bypasses virus by going online

Dancers, musicians from Anajnu Veatem each record their parts from home, after cancellation of festival where they were set to perform

Mexican Jewish dance group Anajnu Veatem performs in an online group video (YouTube screenshot)
Mexican Jewish dance group Anajnu Veatem performs in an online group video (YouTube screenshot)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Mexico’s leading Israeli folk dance group drew thousands of online views by sharing choreography it was set to premiere at a traditional regional festival canceled due to coronavirus.

Each quarantined dancer of Anajnu Veatem – Hebrew for “We and You” – and several musicians were recorded from their homes in Mexico, Israel, and Costa Rica. Released Saturday on YouTube, the nearly 10-minute video shows the choreography that was planned for the 47th edition of Festival Aviv.

One of Latin America’s major events to highlight Israeli folklore, the festival was supposed to be held on March 21-29 in Mexico City. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was canceled like all other events of the country’s 50,000-strong Jewish community.

“All of us who make up Anajnu Veatem, connected and united by an idea, want to release our latest stage work. From each of our homes, holding hands, to vibrate at a distance,” reads the opening message of the video in both Spanish and English.

Participants performed in mosaic screens, including rehearsals and individual appearances. Some of the most popular Israeli songs are played, including “Hora,” “Chai,” “Kan,” “Am Israel Chai,” “Hurshat HaEucalyptus,” “Shir LaShalom,” and “Adama VeShamayim.”

“To be united, it is not necessary to share the space: thanks to technology, digital media and, above all, the goodwill of those who think that crises are also opportunities, talent, inspiration, and brotherhood,” reported the Enlace Judio website.

Titled “Zemer HaAm” – or “Music of the People” – the choreography tells the history of the Jewish people based on their music.

“I wanted to make the history of our people, of Israel, through their music, which is a theme that unites the entire Diaspora with Israel in an incredible way,” ex-dancer and guest choreographer Federico Borenstein said.

Building the choreography took approximately six months and synchronizing the musicians and the large group of dancers took another few weeks, according to the news portal.

“To accomplish it, we gave instructions on how to record to the kids, who followed them precisely because they love dancing, it fascinates them,” producer Guillermo Treitsman declared.

Dancers from Anajnu Veatem. (Facebook)

Created in 1971, Anajnu Veatem is considered the oldest Israeli folk dance group in Latin America. In Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, the three largest Jewish communities in the region, Israeli folk dance — also known by the Hebrew name Rikudei Am — is part of the Jewish upbringing and taught at most Jewish day schools and youth movements.

Health authorities in Mexico have asked people to stay at home to prevent the epidemic from accelerating and the health services from becoming saturated.

“This is our last chance,” said Hugo Lopez Gatell, undersecretary of health, on the night of March 28.

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