Jewish Dancing

Wedding receptions are a great opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, partake in some delicious cuisine, toast the bride and groom and last but certainly not least; dance the night away! Over the last 20 years Serendipity have had the wonderful privilege of attending a wide variety of Jewish weddings, and love that dancing continues to be an important and visually spectacular feature of traditional celebrations. There are a variety of dances which feature in the vibrant and festive celebrations of Jewish wedding events, many intricacies borrowed widely from traditions all around the world. Jewish traditions incorporate many different sets of dancing, which can include the traditional bridal waltz, samba and mixed dancing, and the Hora.

The distinctions between male and female dancing styles are of great visual and cultural interest. Males demonstrate strength and impressive athletic feats in their dancing which often involve some form of aerial acrobatics such as throwing and boosting dancers in the air, bouncing each other from lines of clenched fists and hoisting chairs (and the main players) high up in the air. Over the years we have enjoyed watching traditions of Cossack dancing and other more modern traditions including the helicopter and other nerve racking feats! Traditionally women’s dancing can include many beautiful props such as may poles, ribbons, castanets and swathes of cloth.

One of the most famous (and exiting!) dancing customs which takes place at traditional Jewish weddings is the Hora. Many ceremonies begin dramatically with the families rushing in to start the Hora then more and more family and guests enter forming men and women’s circles. Close family and guests take turns dancing with the bride and groom in the centre of their respective circles. Towards the end the dance comes to a climax as bride and groom are hoisted aloft, sometimes holding onto sides of a white cloth. As the bride and groom are lifted into the air by the guests they are transformed into King and Queen of the night! The dance progresses amidst much laughter as a large circle of family and friends forms around the newly wed pair, moving in a circular direction and often incorporating various dance movements. As the dance continues the bride and groom stay high up above their guests as the circle alternates between closing in around them and expanding out again. There are many distinct versions of this tradition depending on a couple’s religious background, what they all have in common the the truly spectacular dance!

Another traditional Jewish wedding dance is the dance between the bride and her mother, this unique custom is only performed when the last daughter in a family is married. Which makes for a very special (and often emotional!) event. During the dance the mother of the bride is given pride of place, being seated on a chair and surrounded by a circle of family and friends. The dance concludes as she is crowned with a wreath flowers while her daughters dance around her. Other traditions for the wedding of the last child include the broom dance where the couple are swept out of the reception.

Jewish receptions often feature exquisitely themed decorations, some with an emphasis on festivities and fun such as wild and wonderful hats, exciting drinks or even strawberries dipped in chocolate! Other couples have their venue looking beautiful and elegant with a suite of complementry adornments such as confetti, ribbons and atmospheric lighting. Receptions often conclude with the traditional Gladdening of the Bride. This customary dance often takes place at the very end of the wedding day. As the bride and groom prepare to leave the reception guests will circle and dance around the bride, singing her praises and sometimes decorating her dress.

Please feel free to visit our pages on Jewish traditions and Russian Jewish weddings for more inspiration!

One Response to “Jewish Dancing”
  1. Gila Shirinov 3 May 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    We had our ceremony and reception at Kimberley Gardens which made the whole event relaxed — lots of time for fun, socialising with our guests and sharing a glass of wine.
    The music and dancing during our reception was a real highlight of the day.
    Our music was a mix of Russian, Hebrew and English — with all the different music playing the atmosphere was really fun and exciting.

    Most people got involved in the dancing — including our family and friends all coming together to join in the dancing which made it a special experience for us both. I loved the energy and smiles and the way everyone danced in a friendly way in a circle.

    A pinnacle moment was when we were lifted on chairs into the air, it was a bit scary but a great feeling! This part of the dance is an important Jewish tradition is still a very special memory.

    Thank you Serendipity!
    Gila and Alex

Leave a Reply