Now Israel Hayom reports that women are being roped into the new wave of avant-garde chareidi entertainment. The latest sensation is a three-women hip hop dance troupe called Danciot (formed by combining “dance” + “dosiot”), molded under the expert guidance of producer David Pedida, the notorious creator of Oif Simchos and the Kinderlach choir. The women dance hip hop to the sounds of Oif Simchas music at weddings and other events. G-d forbid they are untznius; they are dressed in long sleeved-shirts and long skirts.
“It began rather simple,” explains Pedida. “Our production company had many requests for entertainment for chareidi women. The chareidi community only has unprofessional performances, so I decided to found the most professional group I could. We set off six months ago. Tali Azikari, a dance teacher, approached me, and together we built a hip hop and dance choreographic project with Claude Dadaya.
Pedida admits, “The girls’s bodies are not exposed, but they are dressed in a modern style unknown in the sector. They will appear with hats, dressed like angels. These costumes are not accepted here. The girls in the audience are shocked; they’re not used to such professionalism.”
The troupe consists of Tali Azikari, 27, of Bnei Brak, married and a mother of 2; her sister-in-law Naomi Azikari, 17.5 from Petach Tikva, and Sherry Shulman, 18.5, also from Petach Tikva. The last two are students in a chareidi Bais Yaakov high school.
Tali says, “My family is chareidi and I was born in Tel Aviv. I’m dancing from a young age, of course, only in religious places. I learned in girls’ institutions where only women teach, but I learned all the styles from classic to modern.
“We decided to go in the direction of chassidic hip hop, fast-paced compositions of chassidic music. We decided to found the troupe after we received many requests from women who said, ‘You’re talented, why don’t you bring this into our sector? Chareidi women want to see performances, dances, to let loose. They don’t have the opportunity because they’re most of the time with their kids in the house.’ We realized that our troupe had to give religious women ‘fun’.”
But how could religious women work with a male choreographer?
“Claude has women teachers in his studio, and we worked with them. Claude just came for the final finishes. To tell the truth, we did dance in front of him, but it was only for work purposes.”
Pedida says that the “rabbonim” who he consulted confirmed that for work purposes, there is no problem with dancing in front of a man. “They have long skirts and shirts that cover themselves up. There’s no problem with that.” He adds that so far the troupe has been performing at weddings and private events for women.
Tali explains, “After our show, we try to get the girls to start dancing. We guide them, and they follow our steps. It’s loads of fun.”
As for the chareidi hip hop dancers’ families, they support them and think it’s great. Says Tali, “They saw that I’m talented, and there’s no reason why not to do it as long as it has the stamp of religion. My husband loves it. He supports me and even pushed me towards it. He can’t attend our performances, but he sees me practicing at home.”