The Yair Shapira Dance
Conference in held annually at Ma'ayanot Valley (formerly Beit She'an Valley)
and hosts dance students from across the country. Its purpose is to continue
strengthening the long running dance enterprise across the Kibbutzes Movement.
The conference was first held in 1975 and has taken place every year since.
Yair Shapira, raised in
kibbutz Givat Oz, studied and Shomria School in Mishmar HaEmek, served in a
combat unit in the IDF and fell in the Yom Kippur War, in the battle of Mt
Hermon, at the tender age of 21. In his short life he danced in the Kibbutz
Contemporary Dance Company and then in Batsheva Dance Company.
The dance conference,
which draws a large audience every year, is designed to strengthen the bonds
between dance students from working settlements in peripheral areas and seeks
to raise the professional levels of dance in various aspects. During the
conference, dance workshops are held on different techniques, meetings with
young Israeli creators and student performances for other students. Through
this, participants learn new dance pieces, both original and classic, to add to
their repertoire. During the main show, awards in the name of Yair Shapira are
given to young dancers and creators and to dance educators from peripheral
Every year the country's
top dance Companies, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance company and Batsheva Dance
Company, contribute dance performances before the audience in memory of Yair,
who was a dancer and creator in both companies.
The conference is attended
by 10th- 11th- and 12th-graders from all
regional dance studios of the working settlements, all of which are owned by
the regional councils. The pupils arrive all the way from dance centres at
Hatzerim in the south and Kfar Blum in the north, most of them from clearly
peripheral areas. Pupils in these areas have difficulty finding other inducers
to their positive activities.
The regional studios, some
of which are now called dance centres, are some of the pioneers of dance
education in Israel and have made their unmistakable mark on Israeli dance. For
many years they have led the search for new ways to achieve rich artistic
creation and activity, and are to this day professional centres for teaching
dance in a wide range of styles and techniques. Many alumni of the dance studio
serve to this day in key roles in Israeli dance, as creators, teachers,
performers and managers.
The Shapira Conference, which has been managed
for many years by Niza Bahir and Shaul Gilad, remains a flagship enterprise in
peripheral areas and is highly important, especially in light of the
professional limitations in all fields, as an inducer of continuity in work and
in professional achievements.