Dancing on Water – Jewish, but not Israeli Music and Dance

Dancing on Water – the Music

Dancing on Water is the title track of the eponymous CD by the Canadian klezmer group Finjan, released in 2000 by Rounder Records. For more about the music genre klezmer, click https://folkdancefootnotes.org/music/about-music-types-songs-etc/jewish-music-hassidism-klezmer/

ABOUT FINJAN. Definition: finjan. A small, handleless coffee cup, usually held in a zarf, an ornamental container designed to insulate it from the hand of the drinker; used predominantly in the Levant region.

Finjan the klezmer group came together in the north end of Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1982 and became the first group to spread the klezmer sound across Canada. Their debut album, Crossing Selkirk Avenue (Red House Records) was released in 1993. Nearly 30 years later, with five albums, two Juno nominations, and a Western Canadian Music Award, they’ve toured North America countless times, performed on A Prairie Home Companion, The Lonesome Pine Specials, and in The Outside Chance of Maximillian Glick a delightful movie about being a young Jew in early 1960’s small-town Manitoba.

From the liner notes to the CD, we learn that Dancing on Water is Finjan clarinettist Myron Shultz’s “new setting for the traditional short dance-like melody that concludes the Haneros Haluli on the original 1910 recording.” The previous track on the album [by violinist Victor Schultz and duduk player Mkritch Megel Malkhasisan] is a new recording of Haneros Haluli “a yiddish pronunciation of the Hebrew Ha ‘neroth Halalu (These Lights). This piece belongs to a melody-type used in prayer and devotional music, and was believed to have been played during Hanukah, most commonly with tsimbl (a hammered string instrument) accompaniment.”

Despite rave reviews, Finjan was not a road to riches. From an article found here: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/music/finjan-ready-to-kick-things-back-into-gear-with-wecc-gig-560879032.html “it became apparent the band model they built was no longer sustainable; each member was working during the week at other jobs, music-related or otherwise, and playing shows on weekends, often with young kids in tow. ‘We just felt it was a bit too much… It became tough, not stressful, but just a really heavy load and we were just trying to lighten it in some way. So we decided to take a break, but we didn’t break up, we always called it a hiatus, we knew we would get back together at some point’, vocalist and acoustic bass player Kinzey Posen says.” By 2009 some members had morphed into Black Sea Station and released a 2010 CD Transylvania Avenue.

The Black Sea Station is the brainchild of three fine Winnipeg musicians, Daniel Koulack and brothers Victor and Myron Schultz, both founding members of one of Canada’s first and best known klezmer bands, Finjan. They are joined in The Black Sea Station by renowned Canadian producer Ben Mink (violin) and Sacramento-based accordionist Nicolai Prisakar. Featuring Myron Schultz (clarinet),Victor Schultz (violin), Daniel Koulack (bass), Ben Mink (guitar), Nicolai Prisakar (accordion).

In 2016 Finjan reunited to do a performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Here’s a promo video.

Found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck0COyssQoY Caption: Few knew about klezmer music when Finjan came on the Winnipeg scene 30 years ago. As Canada’s first roots band of its type, Finjan paved the way for a klezmer and Yiddish music revival.

In 2019 “the timing felt right to get the gang back together in a more formal sense. Posen recently retired from his job as a programmer and producer at CBC, while his wife and bandmate, Shayla Fink, also retired from her career as a teacher; all the band members are now in a new phase of life with grown-up children and more free time. ‘We’re trying to bring it back, probably to the level we had before. We would like to do that. We were in Florida in March in a place we played before; it felt good and we just want to continue that,’ Posen says.” Here’s a concert from 2019.

Music: Freilach, Abi Gezunt, Bukovina Polka.

If you ever hear of a performance in your area by Finjan, GO! Better yet, BOOK THEM!

Dancing on Water – the Dance

At some point Els Spiekermann, a dance instructor and choreographer in Holland, heard Finjan’s Dancing on Water and liked it so much she created this choreography for it. Ira Weisburd learned it while in her class in Holland, and brought it back to North America. Here is Els showing her dance.

Els Spiekermann site https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWStbFVpG0OCKEJuu8avgvw/playlists

Ira teaching in Surrey, BC Canada
In Italy, 2015. The label says it’s an Israeli folk dance – easy to assume from the music, but not so!

ANOTHER CHOREOGRAPHY, this one by Luc Lalande, France.

I could find no YouTubes of Dancing on Water coming from Israel.

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