During the years of Yeshiva studies and Army service I agonized over whether or not dance was a career for me to pursue and couldn’t help feeling like my feet had not yet danced the final word. When the time came to make up my mind about a military career, I decided I couldn’t keep debating about dancing without actually dancing, and so I started planning a comeback.
I thought it would be wise to sign up for a BFA program in dance, allowing me to explore my potential as I earn a degree (The longer story is that I auditioned for the best schools in the world, including the “Alvin Ailey” school in New York – all of which were totally fair to not accept me, given that I was completely out of shape, but then again – I dream big). And so once my military service was done I started school at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. I spent a year working my ass off and getting back into shape, as I attended every possible audition for Israeli dance companies. As I was getting rejected, I dreaded I was too old, too short, too everything to fit in any possible company. After all, I would hear a voice within me asking – where had I been all these years since “Born to Dance”?
Happily ever after though, at the end of my first year at school I finally got accepted to the Fresco Dance Company. This was no random company to be accepted into, as Yoram Carmi, head of the company, was one of my first dance teachers, back when I started at age 15. I felt that it was no coincidence that it was he who finally gave me the opportunity to become the professional dancer I was born to be. His company was my habitat for two incredible years of growth, throughout which I reconnected with my body, my capabilities and my passion for the stage.
When the time came for me to leave the company, a colleague suggested that I’d try out for the dancers’ audition for West Side Story. Funnily enough, musicals were where my stage career had started years ago, before I evhen thought of becoming a dancer. On the other hand, word was that musical-theater dancers were a bunch of older guys whose careers were ending because no “real” dance company would hire them.
Nonetheless, the minute I set foot in that audition I saw that the director was Tzedi Tsarfati, a renowned Israeli director who was also one of the judges on “Born to Dance”, all those years ago. I noticed he didn’t recognize me, but had a feeling that within his heart he had a soft spot for me. After smashing the dance audition (after all I had just come out of a “real” dance company), I was invited to a singing and acting audition, as word was they were looking to cast some dancers in actual roles. My luck kept overflowing and by the end of the process I was cast as ‘Big-Deal’, one of the ‘Jets’ – a role with all singing, acting and dancing. Little did I know just how big a deal this role was bound to be.
On the first day of rehearsal I noticed that the leading role of Anita was to be played by Rona-Lee Shimon, a finalist from that same season of “Born to Dance”. Apparently, she did use the show as a springboard for a stage career which took off after the show was over. All these years I spent learning in Yeshiva, serving in the army and becoming a professional dancer, she spent launching a career which had just reached its highest peak so far, with this role of Anita – featuring her acting, singing and dancing, in all of which she trumped stupendously.
Lucky for me, instead of becoming discouraged by Rona-Lee’s personifying what could have been in store for me, had I not dropped out of that show, I saw this as a remarkable omen, signaling how I ended up just where I needed to be.
This thought marked the acceptance of my passion for Musical Theater. A decade later, more compatible than ever, I was ready to say I that the stage was my biggest passion, and that I want to pursue it as a career. The West Side Story experience was one of the most significant milestones in my life, and specifically in my career. Having had all these omens along the way was a blessing for which I cannot be thankful enough. Yes, all those years ago “two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, but everything that happened later was so much better than that poem.