Israeli dance class at the JCC in Washington is both fun and social

Friday, February 26, 2010; WE05

According to Mona Goldstein, 27, an Israeli dance instructor who grew up in Rockville, there are a few places you can go to meet other young, Jewish people: synagogue, a Jewish singles group or Goldstein's Sunday night Israeli dance class at the D.C. Jewish Community Center.

The class, Goldstein says, is "another way to interact with Jews in the area."

Even though the crowd is predominately Jewish, the relaxed, inviting class is open to anyone. This is a good place to go to appreciate the diversity of the city and learn something new.

Goldstein starts with the basics: "Step with your right. Brush with your left," she says. "Okay, so it's a lean to your left, and then travel," she continues, breaking down each move as the dancers concentrate and work to get it right.

There's no worrying about perfectly aligned limbs, or pointing your right foot just so, and it won't take long until everyone is holding hands in a circle and dancing to the Israeli music.

Goldstein's ideal new student, she says, is "someone who doesn't give up."

Dress is very casual, right down to the footwear.

Guy Margalith, 29, who works for the State Department, came to a recent class with two friends visiting from New York. He had attended the class before. "You meet good people. It's good fun," he says. Plus, "It's invigorating to dance."

You can come with a partner if you want, but it's not necessary. Plenty of people come solo, and only part of the evening involves partner dancing.

If you're new to Israeli dance, the main thing is to come at the beginning of class. After about 8:15 p.m., Goldstein puts on the music, and experienced dancers, such as Jennie Berger, 19, of Rockville, hit the floor. She's in an Israeli dance troupe at Brandeis University. She loves Israeli dance and has been doing it since the fourth grade.

Many of the newbies leave at that point, but Goldstein encourages them to jump in with the better dancers and try to follow along and figure it out.

Sam Ackerman, 23, who works for the federal government, started coming to the class regularly last summer. "It's fun. Mona's a great teacher. It's social," Ackerman says. Then he jumped in with the other dancers and started moving around the room energetically, clapping and dancing to the music.

-- Moira E. McLaughlin

Where is it? The D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. Sundays from 7 to 10 p.m.

How much is it? $10, or $8 for JCC members and students. Pay after class. No registration required.

If you have more than three hours: Check out the much talked about Pitango Gelato with your new dance friends at 1451 P St. NW. Open Sundays until 11 p.m.

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