I know that it is trite to say ‘it changed my life,’ but in this case I think it really rings true.

It all began with a small sign posted at the University of Texas Hillel’s bulletin board reading Dance in Israel .  At the time I had been dancing for a ballet company in Austin while simultaneously trying enrich my life with college courses and Jewish involvement.  A program so ideal, combining artistic and cultural desires of mine in Israel on a kibbutz, sounded like a scam. I was there for 10 months.   It’s real!

First, the environment: You wake up each morning surrounded by vegetation and the green rolling hills of the Western Galilee of northern Israel.  The studios are tucked beautifully in the kibbutz; many with wide, open windows exposing you to the natural setting. I loved exploring new ways of moving and digging into my own weaknesses in this setting.  I felt grounded and concentrated on the material at hand.  There is no stress to make it to your night job on time, worrying about your parking meter, or pray that you won’t miss the last bus home.  The kibbutz is your home and the dancers become your family.

The artistic opportunities: Dancing alongside a professional company and learning the repertoire from the dancers themselves really doesn’t get much better than that.  I came from a strict ballet background, so the transition to contemporary/modern was not easy.  The repertoire of KCDC is challenging and unique. It is the type of work that often requires late night sessions in the studios together to refine and examine movement. It is physically exhausting, and that is what I loved about it.

Along with Rami Beer’s work, we were given the opportunity to produce our own work with full access to everything on site. I really enjoyed dancing for my incredibly talented and brave friends. It is not an easy process, but a Kibbutz with no distraction and plenty of talent with open minds is the best place to try.

We also volunteered with different organizations in the area. I worked with Special Needs teenagers on physical movement, rhythm, and English. It was inspiring to see how movement truly did bring us closer.

I know that it is trite to say ‘it changed my life,’ but in this case I think it really rings true. I am now dancing for Kamea Dance Company, a company in Israel southern city of Be’er Sheva.  I can say with 100% assurance that I would have never ended up here without 10 months on the kibbutz training and performing with the Dance Journey Program.  I feel confident in a professional setting and excited for upcoming challenges.

Ana Harmon
Austin, Texas (USA)

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