Dance

The Life of A Hassidic Modern Dancer

by Ross Belfer | 08.10.15

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One cannot experience the dance of Yankalle Filtser without boasting a wide smile. I first witnessed the young dance artist one night at the inclusive-exclusive Yafo Creative guest house in Jaffa. As the lights dimmed and traditional Hassidic music poured from the speakers, a tall and boyish figure rose from the crowd and into the center of the room, undulating and contorting his body into a modern take on the dance of our shtetel-born ancestors.

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Raised in Jerusalem, Yankalle Filtser bears a more complicated-than-most upbringing, being exposed to both religious and secular cultures within his family, gaining influence from both, and coming out into the world as an enlightened individual with an inspiration and talent for dance. The now 22-year-old has been dancing ever since he can remember. Hasidic music filled Yankalle’s home, his schooling and just about every moment of free time he could gather, taking a particular liking to Nigun (nee-gun), a Hassidic song without words, without instruments, and composed mainly of cantorial chanting.

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Over the past years as a resident of Tel Aviv where he lives with his girlfriend Maya, Yankalle has embraced the dichotomy between his born and adopted city, moving his body to choreographed dances and performances during his work with Batsheva – The Young Ensemble, and in impromptu photo shoots such as the shoots featured here.

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