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Malashock allows public into operating theatre to witness labor prior to dance’s birth

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

By Sheila Orysiek

SAN DIEGO — One of the unique aspects of dance among the art forms is that it affords us the opportunity to observe not only its fruition, but also its creation. It willingly lends itself to a public birth: the dancers, the choreographer and the audience all participating in the process. 

John Malashock is a prolific creator of modern dance and periodically invites the public to join him and his dancers for a studio series to observe the actual “on the spot” creative process.  This takes place in their beautiful facility in a building devoted to dance in what was once the San Diego Naval Training Center.  Though the studio is large the setting is intimate; chairs set around the wall – nothing between the audience and the dance.  

Next year, April 2011, the San Diego Museum of Art will host an exhibition “Dreams & Diversions – 250 Years of Japanese Woodblock Prints.”  In the Museum’s Copley Auditorium, Malashock Dance will present “The Floating World” a dance complement to the exhibition. Visual projections are planned in collaboration with filmmaker Tara Knight.

On April 11, 2010, Malashock and seven (the eighth was injured) dancers in practice clothes continued on with the birth of this work which had begun the previous evening – only a few phrases of dance had been choreographed.  The theme is “of a journey” – dancers on tour – after a performance – feeling the exhaustion of body and spirit – and the effort to reconnect the two.  In pairs – man/woman – back to back – sometimes spinning laterally away from one another only to return, but never connecting visually or emotionally.  

The music was a legato violin adagio with the dancers at times working into the music and at times dancing through it.  After adding additional dance phrases and several times running through it from the beginning, it was interesting to watch the dancers incorporate the movement immediately into muscle memory.  Though they could only glimpse one another, their individual internal metronomes began to synchronize.  As the choreographic vision flowed from Malashock to the dancers – they became the repository of his memory. 

Then Malashock began to change the vision of the choreography by breaking it up by gender; men started with the second section while women started with the first original section – the movement coming together with the final section and the dance took on the aspect of a visual fugue.  Another change had the women begin their movement a phrase behind the men.  Further experimentation changed the number of dancers to only two pairs, which narrowed the focus and design from a symphonic palette to a four “voice” aria.  Each change altered the dance considerably, each with its own integrity.

 After the rehearsal/performance, Malashock answered questions from the audience and explained that between these initial creative sessions and the premiere next year, everything was open to change; the music, the choreography, the dancers. 

On the chairs upon which we sat were cards with some of Malashock’s perceptions of his work:

“For me, the music that I choose to choreograph to is one of the most important decisions because it is so integral in shaping the movement I create.”

“Fact:  The music you will hear tonight might not be used in “The Floating World” production.  By changing the music, your reaction to the piece will inevitably change as well.”

“I have a ‘style’ of choreography or movement vocabulary, but I am always trying to expand that vocabulary to create something unique to the project I am working on.”

“Fact: Dancers and staff often nickname certain signature moves, creating a vocabulary unique to Malashock Dance.  Here are some examples:  The Drunken Elephant, Shot in the Back, Find the Hold, Kill the Bug, and Icky Creepy.”

“Research of a new work’s subject matter plays a subtle, but important, role.  The information sits in the back of the brain and is drawn upon subconsciously.”

“Fact:  I have traveled to Japan several times and have traveled extensively throughout California.  Those travels and my performance touring experiences will definitely be in my mind as I choreograph.”

A further “on the spot” studio view of this work in progress is scheduled for May 15-16, 2010.

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Orysiek is a dance critic based in San Diego.  She may be contacted at orzak@aol.com

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San Diego’s Yom HaShoah observance largest ever

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

By Gerry Greber

Gerry Greber

LA JOLLA, California — San Diego’s Jewish community on Sunday, April 11, held its largest commemoration of the Holocaust in 65 years to remember and honor those who were victims or liberators during the Holocaust.  

Organized by Michael Bart, a son of Holocaust survivors, the ceremony at the Lawrence Family JCC paid particular attention to American GI’s who fought in WW2 including those who participated in the liberation of some of the concentration camps.

A movie presentation told of a gun battle with the Nazi guards at Dachau, in which all the Nazi guards at that concentration camp were killed. Sandy Lebman, who participated in the liberation of Dachau, was on hand for the presentation.

The movie and opportunity to meet Lebman brought to tears Ralph Ransenberg, who attended the ceremony with  his wife Marlene.  Like Lebman he had been an American GI in the European theatre, but Ransenberg never got to directly avenge his family against their Nazi persecutors.  His unit was among those that fought in northern Italy before going on to occupy Germany after the war.

Much of Ransenberg’s family had been murdered by the Nazis.  His father and the three youngest children perished at Theresienstadt.  A brother, Gunther, was executed at Auschwitz after being among a group of inmates who threw snowballs in fun at some girls who had hurled them at inmates repairing a railroad.   The other inmates weren’t Jewish and they were not punished. But Gunther was executed for “defiling” the Aryan race.  A remaining brother Fred, survived several concentration camps and now lives in South Carolina.

At a gathering after the event, Ransenberg met Lebman and they spoke with each other for some time.

The Yom HaShoah commemoration was noted in a City of San Diego proclamation  issued by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. And what a special day it turned out to be.  The 300-seat Garfield Auditorium was so packed, a special room with a large screen had to be opened to handle the overflowing crowd.

The guest speaker for the event was Stephen Smith, executive director of USC Shoah Foundation Institute who showed a moving film about people who had survived because their liberators arrived only slightly ahead of their intended execution dates.

Within the observance were candlelightings to memorialize the Six Million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, including 1.5 million children; the recitation of Kaddish, the singing of  El Moleh Rachamim, and an emotional rendering of HaTikvah (The Hope), which is today Israel’s National Anthem.

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Greber is a freelance writer based in Carlsbad, California.

Sharansky, Lau, Peer lead March of the Living

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky (center) leads the March of the Living flanked by Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau (left) and Israeli government ministers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, marking Holocaust Remembrance Day Monday (April 12). Photo: Yossi Zeliger

AUSCHWITZ, Poland (Press Release)–Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, flanked by Israel’s former Chief Rabbi and government ministers, led a group of over 10,000 on the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp in Poland, marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Monday (April 12).

“It is easy to say that the lessons of Auschwitz have been learned.  It is easy to say those two magic words, never again,” Sharansky said, addressing the marchers, mostly Jewish young adults from Israel and abroad. “The hard part is giving those words meaning.  That is our challenge. That is your challenge.”

 
“Our grandparents and their grandparents and all our ancestors chose to stay Jewish — despite all the persecutions.  Will we be determined enough and strong enough to make that same choice?   Will we be as true to our identities living in freedom as they were living in fear?”

 
This year’s March marks the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II and honors the memory of the million and a half children who were killed during the Holocaust. Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who led this year’s march with Sharansky, was among those who survived the Holocaust as a child.

 
Sharansky also invited several young adults from Israel to join him on the march, including Israeli tennis champ Shachar Peer, who came with her grandmother, Yuliana Eckstein, an Auschwitz survivor, and IDF Lieutenant Bensigizi Avraham, an immigrant from Ethiopia who does her army service as a counselor at Nativ, the Jewish Agency program to strengthen the Jewish identity of IDF soldiers.

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Preceding provided by the Jewish Agency for Israel

Harvard scholar Suleiman to lecture on novelist murdered by Nazis

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)—Harvard University Prof. Susan Rubin Suleiman will lecture Friday, April 30,  on the experiences of murdered novelist Irene Nemirovsky, a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism, but still was sent to Auschwitz under Nazi laws.

Suleiman, who served as scholar in residence at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in San Diego, has titled her lecture: “Questions of Jewish Identity in France, before and after the Holocaust.”

The lecture will be held at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Aztecs Athletic Center at San Diego State University.  The auditorium is located next to Parking Structure 5 at Hardy Avenue and 55th Street.

Sponsors include the History, European Studies and Judaic Studies Departments at San Diego State University.

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Preceding provided by the SDSU History Department

Report records shocking rise of violent anti-Semitism in western Europe in 2009

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–A new study by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism in Tel Aviv has revealed a strong surge in violent anti-Semitism in 2009, which in western Europe has now reached the highest level in decades. The number of recorded violent incidents against Jews, or Jewish sites, totaled 1,129 last year, compared to 559 in 2008 – a rise of 102 percent. In addition, there were “many more hundreds of threats, insults, graffiti signs and slogans and demonstrations featuring virulently anti-Semitic content… sometimes resulting in violence,” according to the report.

“The year … was the worst since monitoring of anti-Semitic manifestations began two decades ago, in terms of both major anti-Semitic violence and the hostile atmosphere generated worldwide by the mass demonstrations and verbal and visual expressions against Israel and the Jews,” the study states.

Dina Porat, the director of the Stephen Roth Institute, told journalists at a press conference that anti-Semitism was directly linked to anti-Zionism. “Political goals are imbued with anti-Jewish sentiment and equations of Jews to Nazis,” she said. Her study was published on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day Yom HaShoah.

In Britain, 374 manifestations of violence against Jews were recorded in 2009, compared to 112 in 2008. France – which has the largest Jewish community in Europe – reported 195 violent attacks against Jews, compared to 50 in 2008. Canada saw 130 incidents in 2009, compared to 13 in 2008, and the United States 116 compared to 98. The study records 566 incidents of vandalism targeting Jewish property worldwide in 2009, constituting 49 percent of all incidents. Germany, Russia and Ukraine were not as badly affected by the rise, and may even have seen a decrease in incidents for 2009, the report found.

Forty-one incidents were armed assaults against Jews because of their religion. Thirty-four arson attacks were recorded. Threats of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions accounted for 29 percent of all incidents.

The report attributes the surge in anti-Semitic acts in large parts to the 2009 Gaza war. However, Professor Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University in Jerusalem was quoted as saying by ‘Voice of America’ that “All kinds of new pretexts can serve to ignite anti-Semitism, particularly through anti-Israel feeling, through anti-Zionism; and above all it is Israel that has become the obsession of the anti-Semites.”

Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, which co-sponsored the report, criticized some Jewish communities for “remaining silent” on anti-Semitism, but praised French and British Jewish leaders for speaking out forcefully against anti-Semitism. Kantor also said that the rise in anti-Jewish sentiment in Western Europe was a “new phenomenon financed and organized by pro-Islamic, pro-terrorist organizations and states.”

Porat said: “We had the feeling, which was corroborated by the facts, that the radical left – sometimes together with Jews and former Israelis, this is very disturbing – worked together with the radical Muslim leadership, using anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as political tools, to make Israel as a Jewish state a political target.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Hungarian extremists win record 15 percent in parliamentary elections

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The center-right party Fidesz has won a resounding victory over the ruling Socialist Party in the first round of Hungary’s parliamentary elections, and Fidesz leader Viktor Orban is set to become prime minister. The anti-Semitic and racist Jobbik party, which set up the paramilitary Hungarian Guard in 2007, secured a record 15 percent of the vote, trailing the Socialists by only four percent. Jobbik’s surge represents the greatest political shake-up of the election and moves the political balance of power strongly to the right. Fidesz’s landslide victory had been expected by pollsters and its result of 52.8 percent in the first round translated into 206 seats for now in the 386-seat legislature, giving Orban an absolute majority even ahead of the second round of voting on 25 April.

Jobbik secured 26 seats, more than three times as many as any other far-right party since the country’s return to democracy from Communism in 1990. Jobbik ran on a platform blaming Gypsies and Jews for many of the country’s economic and social problems. “Despite the strong headwinds, Jobbik has managed to double its voters over the past year,” party leader Gabor Vona (pictured above) said. “I still feel, however, that two-thirds of Hungarians are Jobbik supporters but don’t know it yet.”

The Hungarian Guard, an extremist group whose uniforms are reminiscent of those worn in the 1940s by members of Hungary’s pro-Nazi party, was set up by Jobbik in 2007. Last year, it was disbanded by the courts for breaking laws, but it continues to exist under a new name. The guard’s most confrontational actions have been a series of marches through small towns and villages meant to intimidate local Gypsy populations and stop what Jobbik calls “Gypsy crimes”.

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, the umbrella body of Hungarian Jewry, said in a first reaction that it expected the Fidesz majority “to restrain the extremists”. The statement added: “We do hope that the three democratic parties having a clear majority in the Hungarian Parliament will do their best to isolate the enemies of democracy, the ones who fan the fire of hatred and to secure Hungary standing out for the European values and human rights.”

The remaining 111 seats in Hungary’s parliament will be decided on 25 April in run-off elections for the 57 constituencies where no candidate received an outright majority. Fidesz is widely expected to secure a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, which would allow it to change the Constitution.

“I can see that there is complete joy … but at the same time I know deep in my heart that I stand before the biggest task of my life,” Orban – who was prime minister between 1998 and 2002, told his supporters in a central Budapest square. “People voted for unity, order and security.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

British trade union federation launches campaign against Israeli products from West Bank

April 12, 2010 1 comment

TUC poster

(WJC)–The British umbrella body of trade unions, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has launched a campaign calling  for an import ban for goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The campaign was launched together with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an anti-Israel group that advocates a complete economic boycott of Israel and international sanctions against the Jewish state, according to the ‘Jerusalem Post’.

The campaign, entitled ‘Would you buy stolen goods?’, says that some Israeli produce comes from “stolen land”. It also alleges that Israel deploys child labor, and it accuses Israel of preventing the export of “nearly all” Palestinian goods, confiscating scarce water resources and using them to irrigate settlement produce for export to the UK.

“Israeli settlements are built on stolen Palestinian land and are illegal under international law,” TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said, adding: “By confiscating land and resources, and encouraging conflict, they make life a misery for ordinary Palestinian workers and their families… [As] consumers we can make a difference by not supporting the businesses that sustain these settlements.”

Barber said the TUC campaign was not a call for a complete boycott of Israel. “This is not a call for a general boycott of Israeli goods and services, which would hit ordinary Palestinian and Israeli workers. Nor should workers in Britain put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with goods from the settlements. Instead, we are calling for targeted, consumer-led sanctions to send a clear message against the settlements.”

The TUC is the umbrella body for 58 trade unions in Britain and represents a total of 6.5 million affiliated members.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.