Melbourne Israeli Dancing Group Dropped from Festival
A Melbourne Israeli Dancing group was dropped from participating in a Victorian dance festival after refusing organisers’ moves to drop all references to Israel.
The Machol Israeli Dancing Club was scheduled to appear at Multicultural Folk Dance Festival of High Country in the Victorian country town of Mansfield earlier this month.
The festival was organised under the auspices of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and a grant had been awarded to Marta Balan who according to a submission to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission approved the performance of the Machol Group.
When the participants’ names were released, Esther Blumenthal-Skop of Machol was surprised to learn that the name of the Machol Israeli Dancing Club had been truncated to Machol Group and all references to Israel had been removed with the club being described as a Jewish dance group.
No change had been made ot other groups including Chinese, Hungarian, Armenaian and Ukrarnian Traditional Folk Dances and the Irish Reel and Jigs.
In her submission to VEOHRC, Blumenthal-Skop said she asked for an explanation and was told that the organiser would not be held responsible for consequences if the words “Israel” or “Israeli” were used to describe the group.
The submission states that Ms Balan agreed to the original wording but within hours Machol was told that choreographers had decided that the dance bracket was not suitable for the event…and that the artistic director was not made aware of this and was surprised at Machol’s non-appearance at the final rehearsal.
Chairman of VEOHRC John Searle told J-Wire: “The matter is now in the hands of the Victorian Muliticultural Commission and we await their findings.”
Machol organiser Moshe Lichenstein told J-Wire: “We were invited to attend the Festival by Ms Balan who has danced with us in the past. We were planning to send eight girls who were going to perform three dances. We have more than 200 members in our group and we dance four times a week.” He added that Machol had never experienced a problem like this since it was established in 1993. Machol’s members are not all Jewish.