It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mohel or just a plain mensch, a goy or a Hasid, or even if you can’t tell the difference between a tuckus and a tchochke; you’re invited to sing, play, dance or just stand around and soak up the Yiddishekeit (that is, Eastern European Jewish cultural traditions) at Klezmerquerque, the Southwest’s Celebration of Klezmer Music and Dance.
Held every year on President’s Day weekend and hosted by Congregation Nahalat Shalom, Klezmerquerque brings together internationally recognized musicians and dancers, as well as local artists, for a weekend of concerts, dance parties, classes and workshops.
This year, the featured artists include the world-renowned Strauss/Warschauer Klezmer Duo, with Deborah Strauss (violin, accordion, vocals, dance) and Jeff Warschauer (guitar, mandolin, vocals); the acclaimed dancer, choreographer, dance scholar and historian Judith Brin Ingber; and the 20-piece intergenerational Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band.
“The purpose of klezmer music and dance—well, it developed around the Jewish wedding. Most of these tunes developed around having a party and dancing—for days sometimes,” says Beth Cohen, Klezmerquerque coordinator and klezmer musician.
Just as anyone of any age or skill level can participate in a wedding celebration, so too can anyone join in the fun at Klezmerquerque, where the performers are ready to instruct, lecture and demonstrate.
“We try to make it open for everybody,” says Cohen. “This is as much of a teaching and learning experience as it is a performance. The classes are very well attended, and we do have all levels ... I think it’s very important that the performers are sensitive teachers, as well.”
Klezmerquerque packs about a week’s worth of music and dance into just four nights and three days, beginning Thursday evening, Feb. 12. Each day offers music, song and dance workshops or instruction taught by the featured performers and local artists. Friday also includes a musical Shabbat service, a vegetarian potluck dinner and a dance party. Saturday includes lunch and featured evening performances by the guest artists and another dance party. Sunday closes the event with a choice of daytime workshops.
For complete information, including ticket details, visit nahalatshalom.org, or contact Beth Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 243-6276. All events are held at Congregation Nahalat Shalom, 3606 Rio Grande NW (between Candelaria and Griegos).