Welcome to GILGUL-Transformation, Yiddish Dance for the 21st century!

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Immerse yourself in the world of GILGUL-Transformations, an exuberant and moving new dance theater piece that draws on the culture and tradition that shapes klezmer music.

GILGUL utilizes a unique movement vocabulary that blends modern dance ideas explored by early and mid-20th century Yiddish dance artists, folk patterns, ritual motifs, and contemporary dance. The original score, a dazzlingly fresh take on traditional material, is performed by a live band and an elegant singer, who embodies the genius of memory.

The word GILGUL translates as wheel, cycle, or evolution, and this piece presents an evolution of Ashkenazic (Eastern European) Jewish dance that reflects the recent evolution of klezmer music.  The six movement poems that make up the piece each involve some kind of transformation, and the arc of the entire piece journeys both the dancers and the audience from nostalgia to a new form of contemporary celebration. In fact, at the end of the piece, the inspired audience is invited on stage to dance and celebrate, and are themselves transformed.

The six poetic sections are:

On the Street

On a busy street, a busker is singing a nostalgic song in a strange language- Creole from Reunion Island.  A mysterious and magical figure moves among the passersby, unseen but felt. The music changes to a klezmer tune, and she delivers an archaic coat to one dancer, who is joined by two more dancers in identical coats.  They dance, and with the coats make shapes reminiscent of old Jewish illustrations.


A tower of shoes is on display.  The visitors react with deepening horror, but then find a more tender way of relating to the shoes.  They transform the shoes, and the sound of the shoes transforms them.

At the Party, They Danced a Sher

The sher is a kind of square dance that was often danced at weddings.  A father and mother are trying to arrange a match between their respective daughter and son, but neither the match nor the dance go as anticipated, and both become increasingly transgressive.


Based on a High Holy Days prayer in which the cantor prays humbly to be worthy of leading the congregation while slowly advancing from the rear of the sanctuary.  There follows a dynamic meditation on spirituality, congregation, and leadership- both positive and negative.


A young woman comes to the ritual bath (mikveh) in great emotional pain, and in need of spiritual healing. Exquisitely vulnerable, she must endure the inspection of the mikveh lady, who nevertheless leads her tenderly to the bath.  There she at last finds peace and renewal.


In the pure dance finale, the dancers explore all the experiences of the previous sections and incorporate them into the contemporary body, individually and as an ensemble.
After the bows, the audience is invited to dance, too.

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