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From Jerusalem! "Premier" Dance Performance and Insights with Artists


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On April 6, a live dance performance from Jerusalem's c.a.t.a.m.o.n Dance Group explored the tensions of east/west Jerusalem and how people of diverse religions and ethnic backgrounds can bridge cultural differences and bring social change.

About the Program

"Premier" is a solo dance piece choreographed by Elad Schechter, founder and principal choreographer of c.a.t.a.m.o.n., for Rand Zeid Taha, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian dancer. This interreligious and intercultural dialogue through dance negotiates the sociopolitical tensions and rifts evoked by east/west Jerusalem through the expressive forms of dance and movement.

Performance was followed by a conversation with the artists, moderated by Dr. Melissa Melpignano, a lecturer and director of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at El Paso. Originally recorded April 6, 2021.

Co-sponsored by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies in partnership with the Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the c.a.t.a.m.o.n Dance Group in Jerusalem, the Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative, the Pelch Fund, and the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.


About the Artists

Elad Schechter is a Jerusalem native dancer and choreographer and a graduate of the High School for the Arts in Jerusalem. He served in the IDF Theatre Department and danced in many professional companies before founding the c.a.t.a.m.o.n Dance Group in Jerusalem in 2012. The dance group aims toward a diverse audience in the city and represents Jerusalem’s multicultural coexistence in Israel and around the world. He also founded the annual 'From Jaffa to Agripas' Festival in Jerusalem's famous Machne Yehuda Market.

Rand Zeid Taha is a Palestinian dancer from Jerusalem and a graduate from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. A member of the academy's Ensemble and its excellence performance program, Taha won third place her senior year in the annual 'Gerturde Strauss Choreography Competition'. She was also awarded the Henny Jurriens Summer Intensive Scholarship in Amsterdam. Taha performed with c.a.t.a.m.o.n Dance Group in the CINARS Biennale 2018 in Montreal.


About the Moderator

Dr. Melissa Melpignano is a lecturer and director of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her current book project, tentatively entitled Dancing Contradictions: Choreographic Epistemes in Israel, explores the conflictual relationships between governmental politics and dance practices in Israel. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Culture and Performance from UCLA, where she also worked as a lecturer in the Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance and for the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.


DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.