The Annual Dance Conference in memory of Yair Shapira
The Yair Shapira Dance Conference in held annually at Ma'ayanot Valley (formerly Beit She'an Valley) and hosts dance students from across the country. Its purpose is to continue strengthening the long running dance enterprise across the Kibbutzes Movement. The conference was first held in 1975 and has taken place every year since.
Yair Shapira, raised in kibbutz Givat Oz, studied and Shomria School in Mishmar HaEmek, served in a combat unit in the IDF and fell in the Yom Kippur War, in the battle of Mt Hermon, at the tender age of 21. In his short life he danced in the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and then in Batsheva Dance Company.
The dance conference, which draws a large audience every year, is designed to strengthen the bonds between dance students from working settlements in peripheral areas and seeks to raise the professional levels of dance in various aspects. During the conference, dance workshops are held on different techniques, meetings with young Israeli creators and student performances for other students. Through this, participants learn new dance pieces, both original and classic, to add to their repertoire.
During the main show, awards in the name of Yair Shapira are given to young dancers and creators and to dance educators from peripheral areas. Every year the country's top dance Companies, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance company and Batsheva Dance Company, contribute dance performances before the audience in memory of Yair, who was a dancer and creator in both companies.
The conference is attended by 10th- 11th- and 12th-graders from all regional dance studios of the working settlements, all of which are owned by the regional councils. The pupils arrive all the way from dance centres at Hatzerim in the south and Kfar Blum in the north, most of them from clearly peripheral areas. Pupils in these areas have difficulty finding other inducers to their positive activities. The regional studios, some of which are now called dance centres, are some of the pioneers of dance education in Israel and have made their unmistakable mark on Israeli dance. For many years they have led the search for new ways to achieve rich artistic creation and activity, and are to this day professional centres for teaching dance in a wide range of styles and techniques.
Many alumni of the dance studio serve to this day in key roles in Israeli dance, as creators, teachers, performers and managers. The Shapira Conference, which has been managed for many years by Niza Bahir and Shaul Gilad, remains a flagship enterprise in peripheral areas and is highly important, especially in light of the professional limitations in all fields, as an inducer of continuity in work and in professional achievements.