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To Listen To Everyone

Gadi's memories

Gadi Bitton
Gadi Bitton

I had a very special relationship with Yonatan.

In the beginning of my career as a markid (Israeli folk dance instructor) and even more, during the early years of the Karmiel Festival, it was customary each year before the festival for Yonatan to invite me to his office, and for lunch at a small restaurant that served home-cooked food and he would order osso buco (a veal dish) for himself… I don’t, however, recall what I ordered… because at each of these meetings I was paralyzed from my excitement in the presence of Yonatan who had cleared his time and decided to invite me to eat with him.

During the meal, he used to bombard me with the names of people from the dance world, the Ministry of Culture and the world of culture in general and about his conversations and dealings with them … At this stage of my professional life, I still didn’t know anyone, and I had no idea who he was talking about …

Immediately after dinner, we went to the office and there he showed me videos of works and programs he had participated in. At the end of the meeting … just during the last fifteen minutes, he would turn to me and ask: “What would you like to do this year at Karmiel …?”

And I, needless to say, had kept silent during the previous two hours, and just memorized the information with which I had been bombarded, with the intention of going home and reading about all the people and topics Yonatan had spoken about… I had my 15 minutes of “fame” and would shoot out all the ideas I had from the previous year…and he, in his infinite wisdom, gleaned one thing from everything I had suggested and would say, “That’s what we will do this year …”.

The few hours with Yonatan taught me so much as I continued on my path in the field. I learned to explore things in depth and get to know the people who are involved with it as well as the entire field of dance in general, in Israel and around the world. To believe that everything is possible, to explore every avenue, to open doors and say that we in the folk dance field, deserve more attention … as Yonatan used to say to me repeatedly: “The resources are there for the taking…”

I learned to listen to everyone, and to learn from everyone, from the smallest to the biggest and in the same breath, to also be a guide to others and give everyone a chance and to believe in him/her self that “they can do it too”.

Thank you for paving the way.



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