From June 8-11, 2023, more than 150 dancers from all over the world, gathered together in Copake, New York to celebrate the life and legacy of Moshe Eskayo, who passed away last year at the age of 90. The camp was appropriately named, “Hora Shalosh”, combining a reference to Moshe’s camps, Hora Shalom and Hora Keff, and his signature greeting, “Shalosh”.
The six organizers, Barbara Rosen-Campbell, Becca Rausch, Larry Denenberg, Fran Amkraut, Eileen Weinstock and Michele Yakovee, volunteered their time to create a fun, personal and loving tribute weekend to remember and honor the legendary Moshe Eskayo, the choreographer, dancer, camp director, father, mentor and friend. The participants (known as Shaloshers) learned and danced Moshe’s dances, shared personal stories about Moshe, cried and laughed at the memories of Moshe as “Shoemaker” and Falafel Maker extraordinaire. In addition, during the breaks from the dancing at camp, the Shaloshers were mesmerized by memorabilia and videos of Moshe dancing and teaching, which were displayed in a special corner in his memory.
The walls of the dance halls and the dining room were decorated with pictures of Moshe and there was a huge sign with the names of his dances. Camp participants received a souvenir shirt, designed by Ophir Palmon, with the names of about 80 dances that Moshe created. Special thanks go to Maya Yakovee who helped with registration and all the other things around the management of the camp.
But most of all, the Shaloshers enjoyed recreating the fun-loving, game-playing, goofy, friendly, warm community that Moshe had created throughout the years in his camps.
The daytime workshops were devoted to learning Moshe’s well-known and lesser-known dances in multiple sessions that took place simultaneously in different halls. Yaron Carmel, Tamir Scherzer and Avner Naim, in addition to U.S. born teachers Eileen Weinstock, Erica Goldman, Edy Greenblatt, Joan Hantman, Becca Rausch, Fran Amkraut and Larry Denenberg, impeccably taught Moshe’s dances, bringing Moshe’s style and spirit to the dance floor. And Moshe would have been so proud to see his daughters, Irit Eskayo teaching “Shir HaChatuna” and “Debka Irit”, and Michal Eskayo demonstrating “Tefilat Michal” with Yaron. Each of these amazing teachers embraced the enormous responsibility of presenting Moshe’s dances in the way they were created. Thanks to Colin, who photographed and documented, we will now be able to restore Moshe’s lesser known dances that thus far have not been found in the databases.
“Hora Shalosh” was privileged to have Tamir Scherzer and Avner Naim each teach a new dance especially created for the camp, as another way to honor Moshe. Avner created a beautiful Greek-style dance, “Ga’aguim L’Skayo”. And Tamir created a new Debka, to music by George Bar, that he named, “Debka Moshe”.
In addition, it was an honor to have Shlomo Shai, composer, musician and musical arranger, visit camp and speak about his relationship with Moshe. Shlomo spoke of his acquaintance with Moshe that began in the 1960’s, working with his performing groups, the dances that Moshe created to the sounds of his music, and the production of Moshe’s six record albums together with Moshe. Among the beautiful melodies Shlomo created especially for Moshe are “Dekka Oud”, “Hashir Sheli”, “Debka Chaim”, “Bakramim”, “Na’arah” and more. During his visit, Shlomo was present when the “Shaloshers” danced Moshe’s dances that were created to his songs.
The dance camps that Moshe produced and directed (“Hora Keff”, “Hora Shalom”, “Sababa”) are a wonderful heritage of the Israeli atmosphere, the kumzits (campfires), games, friendships and especially dancing with the instructors and guest choreographers who participated in these events. Moshe had formed a wonderful relationship with them. At “Hora Shalosh”, a special workshop was dedicated to the instructors who had participated most often in Moshe’s camps. Israel Yakovee and Avner Naim told stories about the choreographers, and the community of dancers danced the dances of Moshiko, Meir Shem Tov, Shlomo Maman, Tuvia Tishler, and others.
Throughout the weekend, the party never stopped. Thanks to the incredible programming by Yaron and Tamir alongside Latishya Steele, Eyal Levi, Aaron Rosenberg and Murray Spiegel, Shaloshers danced up a storm, which included everything from nostalgia to the latest dances, to dedicated couples sessions and international dancing. They even replayed the program which was played at Hora Keff 2004 at 5 AM.
Saturday night included a special and moving Havdalah ceremony led by Lisa Silverstein Nelson. The highlight of the evening was a Shoemaker-themed party, complete with a bonfire, Israel Yakovee reenacting “The Shoemaker” (a special thing that Moshe used to do at the camps – you can see an example of it at the following link: https://youtu.be/VYc4Mya0XFE) and Shaloshers wearing crazy shoes and stick-on mustaches and playing “Pin the Mustache on Moshe” [on a large picture of Moshe] while blindfolded. (This is based on the children’s game, “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, in which a piece of material is to be attached to a specific spot in the picture while blindfolded.)
There is no doubt that Moshe would have been proud of the participants and organizers of “Hora Shalosh” for holding this amazing camp. In the words of Erica Goldman, “Hora Shalosh was meaningful and fun and utterly exhausting in the best possible way, with laughter and tears and joy and pain in just the right proportions.”