Yiddish Dancer Graces SMC
The Santa Monica College dance
program led by Judith Douglass is
one of the school's proudest jewels.
The program gives us performances,
but also it gives us something
It enables anyone who is
interested in learning about different
cultures discover them in a way never
really touched on in our world, to
understand different world through
the art of dance.
Every so often Judith Douglass arranges for different dance teachers
or dance experts to come in to
her class and teach their peoples'
respective dance and how their
societies view these traditional
dances. If you've never heard of
the dance program at SMC, then
you better check your sources,
because this is where Santa Monica
comes to learn about history through
Last Thursday, the dance program
welcomed Karen Goodman, a
Yiddish dance instructor. Goodman
taught the values of her religion and
culture with the dances that have
been passed on from generation to
generation. "I saw some [dance] stuff
when I was two and that's what got
me started," said Goodman.
Jus t a s t ea ching i s pa r t of
Goodman's life, so is her culture.
"I used to own a dance studio on
Melrose called Dance Works," said
Goodman. "Teaching is a part of a
dancer's life, unless you are in a
The Yiddish culture has a dance
for everything; a dance of anger, a
beggar's dance and even a fertility
dance. That is as much a part of her
culture as matzah and Manischewitz.
The class was a history lesson. The
SMC dancers learned that weddings
would sometimes go on for a week
because of all the different themes
and parties they would have, each
party having its own dance.
Special melodies mixed in with
Eastern European music and gypsy
music would be played by a group of
musicians who would travel to each
all the themed events playing there
music. Goodman eventually had
the students hold hands in a circle
as she said "Is there anything more
united then a circle?" The music
started and she demonstrated the
moves of her ancestors. "You want
to express freedom when you dance,"
Just good old fashion fun here at
SMC. "This was interesting, a good
history class," said Erica Goodman,
an SMC dance student. "It was a lot
of information, I would really love
if it would go in depth."
You don't only have to take a
culture to class to learn different
cultural customs. Sometimes all
you really have to do is dance. We
can learn so much about a peoples'
values and traditions through dance.
History is written in the dances
themselves, whether it's the salsa,
a Native American rain dances or
a traditional Jewish wedding dance
(you know the one, where they all
circle up and have the bride and
groom on chairs lifting them up to
the sky). This SMC Program gives
that unusual perspective to all of its
students. It's so easy to attend one
of these classes and be in for a treat.
Broaden your horizons, take a dance
class, and then you'll know.