Liz Feldstern, Executive Director, IHE
The Institute for Holocaust Education’s mission is to engage people with information about the Holocaust and WWII. We do this in order to honor the legacies of what was and what was lost – and as a way to prevent future genocides. And in order to find new ways of engaging with a not-so-new story, we often look to the inspirational power of art, in all of its many forms.
You may remember the IHE’s past partnerships with the Omaha Theater Company (Hana’s Suitcase), Opera Omaha (Brundibar), the Omaha Symphony (Hawthorne String Quartet residency), or KANEKO (Fabric of Survival). So what art form have we yet to explore?
Well, in the summer of 2014, I began communicating with Carolyn Dorfman Dance. Dorfman’s New Jersey troupe includes 10 highly-athletic, multi-ethnic dancers whose works build bridges and stir the soul. They place great emphasis on education, offering workshops in schools and for people of all ages and dance backgrounds (or not) across the country and even internationally.
Choreographer Carolyn Dorfman is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and this aspect of her identity is the one which informs all of her work. Dorfman’s choreography is a celebration of identity, heritage and the resiliency of the human spirit.
Flash forward to 2016/17 – the stars have finally aligned, and Carolyn Dorfman Dance will be coming to Omaha at our request, and in partnership with Omaha Performing Arts! Their week-long residency will take place January 16-20, 2017, and will include performances at the Orpheum Theater and intimate workshops for schools and organizations around the metro. Details are available on the IHE website and will appear in upcoming additions of the Jewish Press. But the most exciting news for now is that this residency will also coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the JCC’s Dance Program! That’s right – our community’s program of high caliber dance instruction has been going 40 years strong. A huge thank you to event Chairperson, Patty Nogg, for pointing out this connection!
“Dancing at the JCC has meant so much to me and my family over the years. I know many others in the community who feel the same. This performance is going to be a celebration of the power of dance.” Patty explained.
With ballet, tap, hip hop and more for ages two through adult – and a multi-year streak voted “Best of Omaha” – our JCC Dance Program has much to be proud of. In honor of this milestone, Carolyn Dorfman Dance will be offering a special lecture/performance in the JCC Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. The event will also honor the program’s past and current directors (Liz Doherty, Leslie Wallace Abegglen, Cheryl Lerner, Esther Katz) and include a memorial for Esther Wax. A reception with the Carolyn Dorfman dancers will follow.
And here’s where you come in! We are gathering memories, photos, and memorabilia related to the last 40 years of the JCC Dance Program. Have you or your children danced at the J? If you have something to share (we want to see those sequins and feathers!) please contact Patty Nogg (firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.493.3479). All contributions will be returned after the event.