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Get ready to dance

Dance for Kindness is a worldwide annual dance event each November that heralds the start of World Kindness Week (which encompasses World Kindness Day, an initiative begun in 1998 by a collective of "Kindness" NGOs from different countries).

The Dance for Kindness event features a flash mob and freeze mob (if you are not sure what that is, stay tuned for the photos - it's basically a lot of people dancing together in a public place), and a unique theme song and choreography. It's sponsored by Life Vest Inside, a non-profit begun in 2011 by a young woman named Orly Wahba. With an ambitious goal of global change, this organization, as stated in their mission statement, "inspires, empowers and educates people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness." They do that in multiple ways, including by dancing...

Orly recounts that the first dance event started as a dream - it was 2012 and she and others wondered if they could do a dance gathering in some worldwide capacity. They posted a note to their followers and soon found 30 group leaders from 30 locations in 15 counties (3000 participated that first year).

This year (2018 was the the seventh annual dance) the Dance of Kindness took place in 120 cities in 50 countries (select highlight videos and photos from many cities can be seen at the Dance for Kindness website). The message, says Orly, is that "despite the differences, kindness is a common thread that unites us all." Everyone in all the countries danced to the same music and performed the same dance steps.

For the first time, the flagship city was moved from New York (Times Square), and Jerusalem was chosen - which tethers well with Orly's recent aliyah from NYC. Jerusalem as the lead city, meant that a local songwriter and choreographer would be sourced to create the music and the dance that would be used by all the participants in all the dance locations around the globe.

Orly believes that each new day is opportunity to do better, that we're given new life when we wake up to a brand new day -"God bets on us, how can we not bet on ourselves." Her organization creatively promotes Kindness and also, on the website, asks philosophical and scientific questions, such as Why unkindness exists?

The photo essay you're about to see shows the DFK FlashMob and FreezeMob event that took place in Jerusalem on November 11th, 2018, at First Station (site of the old Jerusalem Railway station), from registration and rehearsal, to performance and a post-dance concert by two Israeli musical artists, The Solomon Brothers (who composed this year's worldwide theme song) and Ishay Ribo. Also included at the end of the photo essay is the viral video that launched Orly's advocacy efforts higher and higher (it has gained 30 million views, and resulted in a TED Talk invite a couple years after the video was posted on YouTube.)

Photography and photo essay design by Judah S. Harris

On site, and with just a few hours left before the event, Orly Wahba finalizes graphics and other details for the evening program - Dance for Kindness 2018 - taking place in this year's flagship city, Jerusalem
Orly sits in a small, quiet office in the Hangar building at First Station (location of the original Jerusalem railway station, and now a cultural center and outdoor mall), but will soon head out to meet the people, do an interview with press, and check on the kids art project area
Click on photos to enlarge
Click on photos to enlarge
Mood lighting on stage for evening concert
Click on photos to enlarge
Registration time at the entrance to First Station
...plus, participants received an official Dance for Kindness t-shirt! Look for them in the upcoming photos.
Pre-event practice begins at the Hangar, as participants gather to rehearse the dance and the original song, "Unity," by The Solomon Brothers
It's time to rehearse the dance with the group...
In the office room, there's still some more to do
Click on photos to enlarge
The Dance of Kindness event in Jerusalem accommodated a separate dancing section for women who opt to dance separate from men or mixed groups

A break in the REHEARSAL, as ORLY WAHBA, FOUNDER OF "LIFE VEST INSIDE," SPEAKS TO THE PARTICIPANTS about the Significance of the event...

"The purpose of what we're doing here is to empower people to love themselves enough, to love their country enough, to love their religion enough, to love their faith enough, to love everything about themselves and what they stand for. Because it's only though a true love of self that you can actually open yourself up to love others and embrace them with open arms. That is how we're going to change this world." - Orly Wahba, Life Vest Inside

Click on photos to enlarge
Click on photos to enlarge

FreezeMob - Everyone practices freezing in place

...Before resuming the dancing

A light meal is offered before heading over to the event at the main area of First Station

At about 7:30pm, the program begins in the First Station area underneath a tent covering

Click on photos to enlarge
Click on photos to enlarge

The concert begins...

The Solomon Brothers are up on stage
Click on photos to enlarge
Ishay Ribo performs in the second part of the concert

The video, Kindness Boomerang, with the Matisyahu "One Day" song, features a camera that tracks as one person does a kindness for the next, who does a kindness for the next, who does a kindness for... until it comes back to the original person. Released in 2011 by Live Vest Inside (directed by Orly Wahba), the clip has seen over 30 million views. Watch it now, and tell some friends to do the same, and we can inch it up a bit more.

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Judah S. Harris is a photographer, filmmaker, speaker and writer based in Jerusalem and New York. A noted photo educator and founder of Judah S. Harris Photo Workshops, he teaches group workshops and offers one-on-one coaching sessions for all skill levels. Judah's eloquent narrative photography has been featured on the covers of more than 40 works of literary fiction, in advertising all over the world, and on the pages of a variety of Jewish and general publications ranging from The New York Times to Mishpacha Magazine. View Judah's Event Photography at judahsharris.com/folio and Journalistic Photography at judahsharris.com/journalistic

Watch an interview with Judah S. Harris to learn about his approach to photographing special events and celebrations, as well as some of his philosophy on photographing people (4 min, Farbinder 2015)
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Judah Harris
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