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Experiencing contemporary Israeli dance in UCLA classrooms

Student Voices

Photo for Experiencing contemporary Israeli dance in

Students share their experiences from the master classes of two award-winning Israeli dance professionals hosted by the Y&S Nazarian Center and the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.

By Claudia Mayoss

On May 7th, Ido Tadmor, an internationally-acclaimed dancer and choreographer and current Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, came to UCLA WAC/D to teach a master class for the dancers in Advanced Modern. He introduced his class as a ballet class for modern dancers. Teaching his barrework with no music, Tadmor emphasized the importance of understanding the physicality of each movement.

Tadmor understands the body and he knows how to help others understand their bodies. For him, dance is about telling a physical story. Each movement has a purpose and he stressed the importance of being in the present moment while dancing.

When he played “Sorry” by Justin Bieber for the pirouette combination, it was to allow the dancers to relax and just feel the movement. He has unconventional tendencies, in terms of what a typical ballet class looks like, but everything he did and said made a lot of sense.

Ido Tadmor (left) demonstrates for the class (Photo: Claudia Mayoss)

To finish off the class, Tadmor taught an excerpt from his work that premiered in New York recently with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. The choreography itself somewhat went against the principles of his class such as keeping the hips and torso aligned, ribs closed and tailbone down.

But by highlighting those qualities, he made it easier to understand where the body was supposed to be placing itself in the combination. At the end of class he wished to see us all soon and I believe I can speak for the class when I say we hope to see him back as well.

Something Tadmor said many times throughout class is a concept we can all keep in mind, “Just dance. Don’t make a big deal of it. No fear.”

Claudia is a third year Dance and Political Science double major. In the future, she hopes to dance professionally and attend law school.


By Lauren Lynnae Hitchcock

On May 21st, Rachel Erdos, an award-winning choreographer and dancer, and her company members came to UCLA WAC/D to teach a master class for the dancers in Advanced Modern. Erdos and her dancers are based in Tel Aviv, Israel and travel around the world to share their work.

The class began with a full body warm-up that utilized plies, flat backs, tendues and articulation of the spine. The class then went into an exercise that emphasized different ways of getting into and out of the floor (going forward, backward) as well as different counts and different ways of traveling in and out of the floor.

The main focus of the class was suspension and release of the body. During the piece they presented, they continued to mention the importance of being there “with the movement.” For example, relaxing into the movement and not staging what was going to happen next.

Rachel Erdos oversees the class

During the piece, they worked with images like falling off a building; the weight of a ceiling on top of your body; and your body as an elevator. These images were to push the dancers towards the highest possible point of extension and to inspire their imagination.

To finish the class, each person had to create their own movement phrase that was inspired by a list of steps given by Rachel (i.e. 5 steps forward, right arm out, turn with head, turn with the pelvis, etc). This then was performed in a negotiated space - similar to what Rachel's dancers do when they perform their piece.

Lauren is studying World Arts and Cultures / Dance and Political Science. Through her studies, she explores what it means to use the body as a medium for creation and has a particular interest in cultural patterns, societal relationships, and social activism.


Both these master classes were held in the Advanced Modern/Postmodern Dance course instructed by Gracie Whyte Coad. The classes were organized thanks to the support of UCLA WAC/D PhD Candidate Melissa Melpignano and Ehud Peleg, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Finance at UCLA's Anderson School of Management and member of the Y&S Nazarian Center’s Community Advisory Board.