Yonatan Karmon greatly influenced me, personally and professionally. Time spent with him was always an enriching and enjoyable experience.
He was a genuine artist who choreographed his dances during rehearsals, and he had an extraordinary eye for the stage. Yonatan was a modest person, pleasant, with explosive creativity and an unusual personality. I took great pride in being a dancer in Lehakat Karmon.
Yonatan loved dancers who were happy and were capable of expressing the story they were telling through movement and facial expression.
The dances were very theatrical and full of significance. Yonatan particularly liked strong and masculine male dancers and beautiful, tall and thin female dancers. He always said that you could eat whatever you wanted, provided it was without sugar, carbohydrates and fat.
I once met Shuki and Yonatan in Paris and that was a special experience. I felt honored to enjoy Paris with two such charming people.
Yonatan always spoke to me at eye level and made me feel that I was one of the gang. Yonatan had such charisma that those surrounding him related to him with great respect and tried to please him. I did my best to look respectable near him, to be strict about proper nutrition and show him due respect.
Yonathan’s partner, Shuki, became part of the family and was an inseparable part of the troupe. He was a tour guide and organized a special tour for us. When it was over, Shuki took me (without Yonatan’s knowledge, of course) to the best bakery I’ve ever been to. I hope Shuki never gave away that secret….
Lehakat Karmon was a significant and integral part of my life. I understood its great contribution to my life in particular and to Israeli dance in general. I had just become the director of the “Bikurei Ha’Itim” Stage Arts Center, in the building across the street from Mifal HaPayis, a building that was torn down and moved to a new location.
I decided to name the different spaces in “Bikurei Ha’Itim” after well known people in the Arts field in Israel. One of them was, of course, Yonatan Karmon, the king of Israeli dance, the man who put Israeli folk dance on the stage. I was excited that the “Bikurei Ha’Itim” Center named a dance studio for him. It was even more emotional for me that this happened during his lifetime. I believe in giving a person honor during his lifetime.
To my delight, I was privileged to organize, together with Alon Schmidt, a special evening in honor of this occasion on November 23, 2018. Yonatan Karmon himself honored us with his presence. It was a very emotional and enjoyable evening and many generations of troupe alumni attended.
Yonatan remained a modest person and waited patiently with everyone for the beginning of the event.
Yonatan is no longer with us, but he will remain in my heart forever. His charming smile will remain engraved in my memory as well as his positive influence on my life.
I’m sad that he left us, but I feel very privileged to have known such a person and to have danced in his troupe.