When people create art as an authentic expression of themselves, the outcome can be something totally innovative and unique. Julie Rubin has done just this. Julie is a tap dancer and a Jew, who founded “Ya’el Tap,” a dance troupe that tap dances to Jewish music.
I met Julie through Craigslist, where she posted looking for a Jewish vocalist to perform between tap dance numbers for the group’s November 30th performance at The Wild Project, a theater in the East Village. I only have one Jewish-themed song, but I had been looking for a place to debut it. The song is called “Just Give a Jewish Guy a Try” and was inspired by my mother’s not-so-subtle urging of me to “start looking for a member of ‘The Tribe…'”
Before last night, I had never played the song in front of an audience other than immediate family and one Jewish friend. Now I was in front of a sea of strangers in an 100-seat theater. It was dark, so I couldn’t see anyone’s faces. But I heard their laughter, so I knew the song was resonating.
After the show, many people came up to me and shared their similar experiences, which was really nice–I think that’s the core of what I love about creating and sharing music, being able to connect with other people through an expression of something which is deeply and authentically me.
I also appreciated the opportunity to share, through art, my Jewish identity. This is another thing I love about NYC. I feel free to be an artist, and free to be a Jew. I guess I just feel free to be…me.
Joanna Hoffman also performed last night between dances. She is an AMAZING spoken-word poet. I was particularly moved by her poem comparing the anti-Jewish hysteria which led to the Holocaust, to the Islamophobia which exists presently in this country and seems to be largely unnoticed and accepted by Jews. She calls on Jews to speak out against this like people should have spoken out for us. This really struck my heart. I hope to get a copy of this poem and share on my website if possible.
The event made the New York Times blog:
And here is a video of Julie Rubin and Ya’el Tap, explaining what they do and the show. It’s a very cool video and she is lovely to mention my name as part of the performance. (My first NYT mention–woot!)
I will be creating/posting a video of “Just Give a Jewish Guy a Try” soon…