Shorewood resident Deb Schermer, who led a local Israeli dance class before the pandemic, is now leading portions of classes for hundreds of people from all over the world.
“Someday, when I go to a dance camp and I see one of them in person, then I’ll be like, ‘Hey, I saw you on Zoom!’” Schermer said.
Schermer is one of about 200 people who tune into the weekly Zoom call for a remote Israeli dance session. Dancers hail from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Israel and more.
From kitchens, living rooms and basements, participants follow along with a spotlighted instructor.
Pre-pandemic, Schermer taught Israeli dance classes at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and was part of an Israeli dance group in Evanston, Ill.
“This pandemic has given the Israeli dance community an opportunity to become more global,” Schermer said. “All the sessions are available to everybody worldwide, which would never happen in real life.”
At Schermer’s in-person dance group in Whitefish Bay, dancers face each other while sometimes breathing hard. It’s not good for a pandemic, so the weekly class is currently canceled.
Schermer said the remote classes help maintain her muscle memory for the “thousands” of Israeli dances “floating around” in her head.
The virtual format is not without challenges. Because of Wi–Fi issues, the music and dance moves aren’t always in sync, Schermer said.
Schermer also said there’s a lot of turning in Israeli dance, and having a dancer’s back turned to the screen can make it difficult to follow along.
“It’s taking a three-dimensional activity and trying to turn it into two-dimensions on this screen,” Schermer said. “So, there’s definitely some challenges with it.”
If the Whitefish Bay dance group is unable to resume indoors in the fall, Schermer said she may find a large outdoor space where the group can dance at a distance safely.
“It’s really important to stay connected and maintain that sense of community,” Schermer said.
While Schermer enjoys the virtual group, she said she wouldn’t recommend it to beginners because the format makes it difficult to learn new moves.
Those interested in Israeli dance should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.