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Israeli percussion group proves 'everyone has rhythm'

Negev Gala honours businessman Bob Silver

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THREE hundred Winnipeg school kids yesterday discovered they have rhythm.

The scene was the gymnasium of the Gray Academy of Jewish Education on Monday, when three members of the Israeli dance-percussion group Tararam mounted a workshop for students in Grades 3-6.

The energetic kids, 150 of whom were from Brock Corydon School, were given drumsticks, which they used to thwack the gym floor in perfect time with Tararam's complex beats.

"Everyone has rhythm," the group's founder and artistic director, Doron Rafaeli, said in an interview after the workshop.

"The talent is to discover your rhythm. You just have to listen to your heartbeat."

Tararam is the featured act at the Jewish National Fund's annual Negev Gala fundraiser tonight at the Centennial Concert Hall.

About 1,300 people are expected to attend the event, which will honour Winnipeg businessman Bob Silver.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for student and $60 for adults.

Tararam's 75-minute show employs eight performers in a high-energy mix of dance, percussion and theatre.

According to press reports, the group calls to mind such acclaimed percussion shows as Stomp and Blue Man Group.

"The show contains almost no words," said Rafaeli's wife, Cheryl Hechter, a former Winnipegger who serves as the group's stage manager.

"It's very international."

Tararam means "hubbub" or "commotion" in Hebrew. Rafaeli, 44, premiered the show 1997 at the Israel Festival of Stage Arts.

Since then, the group has toured internationally and even performed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Tararam performed in the U.S. in 2007, but the Winnipeg show marks the group's Canadian debut.

On June 15, they will perform at a similar fundraising gala in Calgary.

Rafaeli, who claims he started drumming in his mother's womb, gets a particular charge of doing workshops with children.

"It's good to use drums instead of violence and bad vibrations," said the diminutive percussionist who was accompanied at the Gray Academy by fellow Tararam members Itay Ben David and Merav Sharabi.

"Everywhere you go in the world, kids are kids."

With family roots that date back four generations in Jerusalem, Rafaeli says he approved of U.S. President Barack Obama's conciliatory speech toward Muslims in Cairo last week.

"I'm left wing, so I liked what he said," Rafaeli said. "A two-state solution is the only hope (for peace with the Palestinians)."

The JNF was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. Since its inception it has evolved into a global environmental leader.

Each year the Negev Gala in Winnipeg honours a community leader.

Silver is president of Western Glove Works, co-owner of the Warehouse One retail chain and co-owner of the Winnipeg Free Press and Brandon Sun. He is also a founder of Canterbury Park Capital LP.

He chaired last year's United Way campaign. He served as co-chairman of the Premier's Economic Advisory Council, co-chairman of the Winnipeg Library Foundation and board member with the Canadian Apparel Federation and Destination Winnipeg.

He was recently appointed chancellor of the University of Winnipeg.

The Negev Gala was instituted in Winnipeg in 1953. Recent honourees have included Larry Hurtig, Arnold Frieman, Premier Gary Doer, the Asper Foundation and Miriam Maltz.

Gala preview

2009 Negev Gala

Centennial Concert Hall

7:30 p.m. tonight

Tickets: $30-$60

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 9, 2009 C3

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