The Jewish Heart

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June 18, 2013

Julie Lemberger

Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects’ 4Chambers, a new experiential performance installation premiering this summer on Governors Island in New York.

There is a reason the heart is a metaphor for all things connected to compassion, emotions, fullness and emptiness of life. How we act and react in life has to do with where your heart is. The heart is a muscle that pumps the lifeblood throughout the body, and responds automatically to keep us going in times of extreme mental cogitation, stress, alarm. To beat faster with joy, when in love.

The heart is like a house. It even has an entrance way (the atrium). Most Jewish traditions center in on the home, the hearth, the heart of the house. We cook, light candles, serve people we love in the home. These traditions in the home keep us going.

4Chambers at Governors Island. Photo Julie Lemberger.

The circulatory system is a ritual of passage — from one part to the next, and back again. So many Jewish rituals are traditions for us to gain understanding of our humanity. We connect through a layering of inquiry, the mind tries to understand life, and our connectivity. The beating heart is a rhythmic reminder. We celebrate with song and dance.

Our hearts know how to fuel our bodies — a microcosm of the world. We know how to live and function unselfishly. Jewish teaching is all about this life now. The heart is the basis of most all religions; because we want that circulatory endurance, the system of knowing we are all working as one organism. All parts of this strong cardiac muscle work together in “Syncytium” coordinating every cell — the same way religion can bolster and inform connectivity.

*Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects’ 4Chambers, a new experiential performance installation, premieres this July on New York’s Governor’s Island. *

Jody Oberfelder choreographs and directs dance, theater, opera, film, and installation pieces. As choreographer and director, Oberfelder has created a wide variety of work for audiences in Europe, Asia, and America. With her company, Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects (JODP), Oberfelder’s expressive, athletic choreography has toured from the Centre National de la Danse in Paris, Die Werkstatt in Dusseldorf, The Pusan National Theater in Korea, The 20th Annual International Festival of Modern Dance in Seoul, and The Belgrade Dance Festival to Jacob’s Pillow, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Dance New Amsterdam, MASS MoCA, Washington College, and The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard.

Julie Lemberger’s photographs of 4Chambers were taken on site at Officer House #15 on Governors Island. Julie Lemberger is a photographer focusing on dance and other such romantic, musical, fun, interesting, scholarly, personal, passionate and artistic projects people in New York City (and Brooklyn) are doing. Having been a dancer herself, she is dedicated to preserving the fleeting ethereal moments of concert dance for more than 15 years, documenting her vision of dance in New York City at the turn of the 21st century.

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