Amit Younger – Interview Part 1
I was born in the south of Israel in a town named Eilat, right on the border with Egypt. When I was four the family moved to a Kibbutz, a small community which was further north and just a few miles form the Gaza Strip. When I grew up there it was completely peaceful and these days it’s a bit of a war zone, so the reality there is completely different now. Back then the kibbutz felt like a really nice community to grow up in- you felt completely protected, you had everything you needed, you didn’t really understand what it means to need anything because everything was right there for you.
I interject here to ask what a Kibbutz is …
A Kibbutz used to be a communal community in every sense of the word. The slogan was something like ‘each person contributes as much as they can and each person gets all that they need’. People are different to each other and not everyone can contribute in the same way but everyone was expected to contribute to the best of their ability and everyone received whatever they needed. There was a communal dining hall and we had 3 meals a day there. Education, health, everything was covered by the community. You only received a small budget for your personal needs. It sounds like an ideal community except that it isn’t really because no-one wants to be like everyone else. It worked really well in the early days when Israel was just founded and people had hardly any personal possessions. Living in a small community like this was an amazing thing- the community gave you everything you needed and even had luxuries such as a swimming pool and a tennis court. The problems began when people started having more money or inherited money from their parents (who were not part of the community). People soon realised that they didn’t want to be ‘exactly’ equal to the person next to them anymore. Most communities had “children’s houses’, where children were cared for by members of the community from as early as 3 months of age. Children lived in the children’s house for most of the day and would spend only a few hours in the afternoon with their parents in what used to be known as parent’s rooms. People followed the rules for a few decades and then in the 1980s and1990s things changed dramatically.
Most of my family still live in the kibbutz.
When did you leave?
When I finished High School I did a gap year in the north of Israel where I was guiding youth— like a scout movement. During the gap year I started taking dance classes in the local school and when I finished my gap year I joined the professional dance school of the Kibbutz Dance Company. It’s the second most prestigious dance school in Israel. I was there for 3 years of study and 1 year of apprenticeship with the company. During this last year I decided I wanted to see more of the global dance scene and auditioned to the professional Dance School of Rotterdam, Holland. I spent a year in Rotterdam as a guest student (during which I took Classical Mat Pilates classes on a weekly basis) and then moved back to Israel to dance with the Kibbutz Dance Company. I danced in the company for one more year and then started free-lancing as a dancer in Tel Aviv with different dance groups.
When I lived in Tel-Aviv I began taking Equipment Pilates classes for the first time. A friend told me she found this amazing teacher who had a small studio in her flat nearby. I didn’t really know anything about taking classes on the equipment and the fact the teacher had studied Pilates with, the wonderful Deborah Lessen, meant nothing to me back then. However it was the thing to do and since a few of my colleagues took classes there, I decided to give it a go. I remember the teacher (Tamar Tazchi) “forced” me to make a number of appointments in advance and I thought it was quite strange… but I went anyway and really enjoyed the work. I guess you can say I fell in love with it immediately.
I found it very humbling that I had danced, travelled and performed on stages all over the world and yet I could be put in these straps and asked to do some frogs and my legs would start shaking like crazy. It exposed all the imbalances I developed when I started dancing so late. The motto in the dance school was always ‘First you break – then you mend’. (we have a bit of a laugh here because it’s very unPilates!) It was always said in the most positive way but of course it means you over train and over stretch on a daily basis. I remember having a hamstring injury which then led to a meniscus tear and also suffering terribly from Piriformis related issues. I didn’t know what it was at the time but remember feeling pain deep in the Gluts- deep beyond reach. When you start dancing so late, and you go quickly through the paces you don’t (or at least I didn’t) develop the strength necessary to support all the turn out, the hip extension or the back extension etc. So your body finds ways to compensate. Working in this new Pilates environment suited me really well- it was equally dedicated to working on the body but without the competitive element. And it allowed me to start the journey of healing my body from the years of physical “abuse”.
Part 2 of this great story is here