The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Dani Dassa, teacher of Israeli dance.
Dani Dassa (called "The Father of Israeli Folk Dancing in the United States") is one of the greatest teachers and choreographers of Israeli folk dance in the world.
Dani was Jerusalim born to traditional Jewish parents in January of 1929. He discovered dance at the age of four when his grandfather took him to Simcha Torah services. Wide-eyed, he marvelled at the congregants as they danced in the streets in celebration of the Torah.
He grew up dancing in youth groups. Dani was involved in the folk dance movement of Israel since its inception. He was very active in the Zionist Youth movement and as a teenager, he became involved with the Hagonah and helped defend Jerusalem.
He is a physical education graduate of the Wingate Institute of Israel.
He studied modern dance, first in Israel and later, in 1956, in New York, where he learned from Martha Graham and Louis Horst. He studied modern dance for the technique; the music and ideas of modern dance really never touched him. Although sought after as a modern dancer, he new his calling lay elsewhere. Shortly he was introduced to a young woman who worked at the Israeli Consulate and, within a month, Dani married Judy Shore. He became Dance Director at New York's Cejwin camps where he reviewed Jewish dance. By the end of his tenure, Dani had everyone dancing and the camp held a major dance festival.
Dani founded and directed the folk dance camp "RIKUD," held at the Brandeis Institute. He has toured the United States both as a performer and as a teacher. He has served on the faculty of Adult Education Institutes at Sinai Temple, Adat Ariel, and Valley Beth Shalom.
The couple, along with their infant daughter Dorit, arrived in Los Angeles in 1958 and Dani secured an interview with Shlomo Bardin, founder of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. He was given a job which was his "lucky break." He began connecting people to Judiasm by teaching ten basic dances through which people from all over the world could communicate. Dani has been the director of the dance department at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and at the University of Judaism.
In 1966, Dani founded and launched Cafe Danssa folk dance coffee house in West Los Angeles, California. Although he only owned the club for seven years, he maintained a presence there to the final day of its existence, hosting an Israeli Night on February 3, 2007. Dani's wife, Judy, recalled that so many people met, married, and divorced at Cafe Danssa -- it was their life.
Dances Danni has taught include Adama (Al Givot Sheikh Abrek), Ahavat Hadassah, Al Hanissim, Ani Nishba, Arava Arava (Shir Habokrim), Ashrei Ha'eish (Ashrey Ha'ish), At Adama, At Va'ani, Ayuma Behar Hamor, Ba'er Basadeh, Banot Alena, Basadot Hayerukim, Bashana Habaah, Bashchuna, Bat Hacarmel, B'ein Harey Chevron (Agadat Hala'h), B'einaich, Binot Mireh (Bada Era'e Tzoni), Bitti At Bochah, Bocha Vetsocheket, Bona Habanot, Brit Hashnayim (Hachnasat Chatan Vekala), Chag Li, Chofshi Umeushar, Debka Bedouit, Debka Dassa, Debka Habir, Debka Hilel (Halel), Debka Or David, Dodi Dodi, Dror Yikra, E'Hiyeh, Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh, Eina'yich Yonim, El Ginat Egoz, Ena'yich Yonim, Eretz Zavat Chalav (Uvdash), Erev Shel Shoshanim (Yarus), Esh Ali, Et Dodim Kala, Gozi-Li, Ha'eer B'afor (Ha'ir Be'afor), Hana'ava Babanot, Ha'ir Be'afor, Harei Hevron (Harey Chevron), Hashachar, Haroa Haktana, Hineh Lo Yanum, Hora Mamtera, Im Hashachar, Im Lo Ted'i Lach, Im Tagidu, Ima Adama (Adama), Ivanu Batim, Joshua (Yehoshua), Ka' Agadat Rivka, Karen Or (Karen Or Chama), Kfar Beteman, Ki Tavo'u El Ha'aretz, Kibuy Orot, Kiriya (Kiria), Kol Dodi, Kumi Lach (Ra'ayati), Lach Yerushalayim, Layil Ba (Kibui Orot), Le'or Chiyuchech, Lemoladeti, Li Lach, Lichyot Babayit, Likrat Kalah, Lismoach Verirkod, Lo Ta'iti, Ma Avarech, Ma-Oz, Maoz CHor Nina, Maya, Mechol Hadvash, Mizmor Shir (Tov Lehodot), Moher Prahim, Nigun Balev, Od Rikud Oh Shnayim, Oneg Shabbat, Orcha Bamidbar (Yeminu Smol), Piley Tevel, Po'em Levavi, Ra'iti Bachalom, Rachel (choreographed for Dani's wife, Judy), Rad HaLaila, Raiti Bachalom, Rakefet, Rikud Sameach, Sa'einu (Lamidbar Sa'einu), Saper Li Kochav, Sharm-A-Sheikh II, Shdemati, Shechora Ani, Shevat Pele Haolam, Shir Nostalgia, Shiri Li Achoti, Shiru Shir Chadash, Shivat Pile Ha-Olam, Simchu Na, Sovevuni, Tzel Ha'etzim, Tzipor K'tana, Tzur Mishelo, Tu B'Shvat, Uri Tzafon, Vayenikehu, V'chtitu, Ve'erastich Li, Ya'akov Hatamim, Yass (Yasisu Chassidim), Yayin, Yehoshua (Joshua), Yibanei Hamigdash, Yevarechecha, Zemer Nugeh, and Zmirot.
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