Yoav was part of my life long before I actually met him. From the time I started dancing, he was with me every step of the way, in every movement, in every creation. I danced in his group at the Dubnov School in Tel Aviv. I took part in several of his hishtalmuyot (workshops for teachers) and I was privileged to also dance in his extra special nostalgia group at “Bikurei Ha’Itim” in Tel Aviv.
When Yoav asked me to review the dance, “Simlatech Ha’Shezura”, for the group, no one was prouder than I was. The connection between us was immediate, even though we never worked together. Yoav was pleased that I promoted his dances, and I loved dancing “Strose To Stroma Sou” next to him.
At one point, Yoav confided in me that he was tired and wanted to retire. I protested. I couldn’t imagine a month going by without having a quality dance session with him. I was very happy that his activities continued until the moment when it was impossible to stop the Tel Aviv Municipality’s “renewal” program: the demolition of “Bikurei Ha’Itim”, the dance center building.
Nourit Grinfeld and I made sure to visit Yoav at the Mishan Senior Residence in Ramat Aviv. Every time we visited, over a cup of coffee and a piece of cheese cake, Yoav told us a little about himself, his days at Kibbutz Ramat David, his memories of Gurit Kadman z”l, with whom he danced in a course in 1947 and about “Ta’am Haman”, the first dance he choreographed three years after that course.
Yoav told us the stories behind the “inalienable assets” that he left us. Every dance had its story. He told us about the dance sessions, performing groups, hishtalmuyot, and especially about his pride in the generation of choreographers that he had groomed.
For his 89th birthday, Nourit and I hesitated about preparing a program of his dances. We decided to have a folk dance evening with as many dancers as possible who knew and loved Yoav. Since then, with every phone call, he emphasized how much he enjoyed that dance session. Between us, I don’t know who enjoyed it more, Yoav or us, and we even talked about having another such evening in honor of his 90th birthday.
But these are coronavirus days and when I called to congratulate him, Rafeket had already taken him to the hospital.
Now Yoav, the choreographer, is dancing and teaching dance “Up There”… and we are left to miss him and to tell him, “Thank you” for the dances, for the creativity and the wonderful dance culture that he has bequeathed to us all.
I had the privilege of knowing him and I acknowledge the privilege given to me to accompany him during his last days. I miss him.