Jill and Amnon Damti

by | Dec 5, 2016 | What’s Happening

An Israeli husband and wife dance duo, one deaf and one who hears, will share their uniquely choreographed dance work, Two Worlds, at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach.

Combining pantomime, sign language and expressive movement, this dance team creates a moving narrative that challenges concepts of human limitation, weaving together a world of silence with a world of sound.

Celebrated Israeli dancers, choreographers and educators, Jill and Amnon Damti have traveled and performed across Israel and the globe, sharing their collaborative dance message—“everything is possible”— with diverse audiences—in schools, community centers and prisons, as well as through workshops for dance instructors, deaf children and sign language choirs.

Amnon has been invited several times to Gallaudet, in Washington D.C., the largest university for the deaf, to choreograph and participate in international festivals. He received the prestigious Kinor David (David’s Violin Award), and is titled the “Best International Deaf Dancer” and performed for President George H.W. Bush at the White House in 1990. Both Amnon and Jill have been awarded the “Persons of the Year” award, in the area of dance, according to their website.
Born deaf, Amnon was placed in an institution for the hearing impaired in Jerusalem at age five. He spent 10 years there. This experience had a powerful impact on his dancing, a medium which allows him to express his need for freedom and movement.

“This is my reaction to the years I was kept in a closed institution, where I was not free to go out. When I left, I discovered a new world that was totally unfamiliar to me. That experience was like a bridge, a passage to a new, unknown world. It was like falling into a hole. I started from zero and dancing saved me,” says Amnon, during a phone call from Israel.

Amnon was the lead dancer in the Israeli dancing troupe, Moshe Efratis Kol Demama (The Voice of Silence) for the hearing impaired, before he created his own company, Chushihi (The Sixth Sense).

Jill, born in the U.S., was a professional gymnast and water ballet artist who had an affinity for dancing, but never studied it professionally. Jill’s aliyah to Israel brought these two creative people together, forging a professional and personal partnership with marriage and two children. “I had this very talkative boyfriend for eight years and then married a man who communicates without sound,” she says. Like many married couples, Jill finishes her husband’s sentences, but with fluent sign language.

Mindy Brown, an internationally renowned sign language interpreter, will be at the MOCA performance to make it accessible to sign language users. A Children’ Art Workshop to make “tunnel art” will be available for children while parents enjoy the performance.

Tickets are $20 or $25 for JCC members.

This performance marks the fourth event in the Israel Today series sponsored by Charles Barker Automotive presented by the Simon Family JCC, the Community Relations Council of UJFT and community partners. For more information or to purchase tickets for the event or the workshop, visit www. JewishVA.org/IsraelToday.