The Karmiel Festival is a major event in Israel for those who love to dance, whether you live in Israel or abroad, you are professional folk dancers or members of professional dance troupes, or you are choreographers or only people who love to dance. The festival, which is held for three days and three nights, presents dance and dancers from Israel and from around the world. This year, 100 performances were given at the festival, which took place in July and included the participation of 10,000 professional dancers from Israel and abroad.
There were about 250,000 dancers, and visitors attended the festival’s events. In addition to the performances, there were training sessions and dance events in which the general public was invited to participate. There were also two competitions: the first one was the most successful dance routine that could be performed by amateur participants, and the second one was for the best choreography for an Israeli folk dance troupe. The annual festival turns the northern Israeli city of Karmiel into one huge celebration of dancing, colour, and singing and an opportunity for the meeting of worlds.
This year, the events were held in various places throughout Karmiel: the stadium, the central park, the sports arena, the tennis courts, the theatre for the arts, and the city’s vast amphitheatre. The festival opened with a pageant in which 3,000 people participated, including members of Israeli folk dance troupes and dance troupes from abroad, with various orchestras and bands providing the musical accompaniment. Immediately after the opening ceremony, the evening was dedicated to the memory of Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s fifth president, who passed away this year. Navon created the musical “Spanish Grove,” which tells the story of a Sephardic Jewish in Ohel Moshe, Jerusalem, during the 1930s, and the musical has become a classic of Israeli culture. The festival’s opening show was spectacular as it was a tribute to Ladino culture and involved the participation of 1,500 dancers. After the opening show, a show paying tribute to the famous Israeli songstress Shoshana Damari to mark the ten years’ anniversary since her death began at midnight. In this show, young dance troupes performed to the accompaniment of some of her greatest hits.
Each year, the highlight of the festival is a unique show in which the world’s leading dance troupes perform. This year, the dancers performed to the accompaniment of hits from the musical “Hair.” Among the performers at this event was a Hungarian dance troupe of 22 dancers and one of the dancers is the European champion who had also performed in Irish dance. Parents and children enjoyed the performance of Cinderella and Swan Lake by the St. Petersburg Ballet on Ice, the world’s best ballet on ice and one of its members is the world’s figure skating champion. The festival’s activities included special events for women only, and these were held on a unique site. Leading contemporary dance artists such as Contacta and Gaga were featured. There were also studio performances, Israeli folk dance, belly dance, a dance repertoire, shows for families and modern dance performances.