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September 08, 2011 - Image 65

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-09-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

arts •& entertainment

Gotta Dance!
Gotta Sing!
Gotta Yoga!

Elizabeth Applebaum
Special to the Jewish News

L

ounging by a pool in "Her
Majesty's former colony of south-
ern Florida;' comic actor Marcus
J. Freed is on YouTube wishing Prince
William and Kate Middleton "a hearty
mazel tov."
"The locals," he says, "are tremendously
excited about the royal simchah." He lifts
a bottle of "our finest" Kedem grape juice
and then, "in the words of the Black Eyed
Peas:' tells the royal couple, "L'Chaim!"
He's also well versed in Shakespeare
and is a graduate of the University of
Birmingham (England) drama depart-
ment who has appeared in TV commer-
cials and plays.
Or you might find him, serene and
thoughtful at a park in Jerusalem, bend-
ing backward as he meditates on the word
"shalom" — or engaged in another of
his many talents: judo, surfing, juggling,
mime, playing piano and salsa dancing.
He's also fluent in Hebrew.
But a person can only do so much in
a short visit, so when Freed comes here
for the Jewish Community Center of
Metropolitan Detroit's Stephen Gottlieb
Festival of the Arts, he won't be crack-
ing jokes and dancing and juggling and

A Fine Romance

A new exhibit at
the JCC's Meyers
Library celebrates
American-Jewish
composers.

G

eorge Gershwin's first published
song didn't make him rich (he
was paid $5), but it certainly
had a catchy name: "When You Want 'Em,
You Can't Get 'Em, When You've Got 'Em,
You Don't Want 'Em."
Gershwin was just 17 when the song
was published in 1916 — the start of
a short but extraordinary career that
helped define American music.

The JCC's Stephen
Gottlieb Festival of the
Arts inspires, teaches,
entertains and hosts
a yoga/surfing/
Shakespearian/salsa-
dancing educator.

surfing and saying "To be or not to be" all
while resting in child's pose. But he will
give audience members an opportunity
to learn about Bibliyoga, which integrates
Judaism and yoga, and star in perfor-
mances about King Solomon and Elijah,
where he not only plays the king and the
prophet but all of Solomon's 700 wives.
Raised in a traditional Jewish home in
Watford, just outside of London, Freed
loved gymnastics as a child, which grew
to be a passion for yoga as an adult. In
yoga, he found what was missing in more
traditional forms of Jewish prayer. "We've
developed into a cerebral, head-based
talking and talking and thinking and talk-
ing and thinking group. Contemporary
Jewish practice has lost touch with the
body except through food:' he says.
Freed's study of Jewish text convinced
him that Halachah (Jewish law) not only
encourages but demands good physical
health, with Maimonides stating: "It is
impossible to connect with God unless
we're physically fit." He came upon refer-
ence after reference discussing physical
power and meditation, but no one had yet
created a system that specifically linked
yoga and Judaism. That is how Bibliyoga
was born.
But don't look for Freed to teach the
"Chai pose" as you try to shape yourself

into the number 18. Bibliyoga is not about
"yoga shtick," he says. As with any yoga,
it is a way of life that teaches calm and
acceptance. Poses and meditation are
simply "practice for real life he says. "The
yoga begins when we get off the mat."
Bibliyoga is for everyone. "The purpose
of yoga is to become older and more grace-
ful" (the leading yogi today, B.K.S. Iyengar,
is in his mid-90s), he says."So there's no
age limit, no training needed, just the desire
to increase one's physical health, reach a
deeper sense of peace and calm, find spiri-
tual and emotional growth."
Freed, 36, whose yoga practice has
"transformed my world:' takes his teach-
ings, "along with my tefillin," around
the globe, and especially his new home,
California.
"I love England;' he says, "But the
American Jewish community is very
willing to invest in experiential creative
education," and in California, "everyone is
willing to give new things a go."
When not practicing yoga, Freed, also
artist-in-residence for the Jewlicious
festivals, is likely to be found on stage. In
college, he studied Shakespeare and was
"very taken with the idea of the kings, the
way Shakespeare has this whole cycle" of
Richards and Henrys, addressing "all the
big issues, like how we behave with the

Gershwin and other Jewish-American
composers will be featured in the exhibit
"A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters,
American Songs, 1910-1965" at the Henry
& Delia Meyers Library and Media Center
at the JCC in West Bloomfield.
The exhibit, which is free and open to
the public, is co-sponsored by the West
Bloomfield Public Library and the Jewish
Historical Society of Michigan. It features
posters, photographs and other memo-
rabilia.
"I really love this music',' says Library
Chair Joan Jampel."These are the songs I
grew up with. The exhibit is a wonderful
trip down memory lane as well as a fasci-
nating overview of half a century of popu-
lar American songs by Jewish songwriters.
"Not only is there a 'romance' between
talented composers and inspired lyricists,
but also a 'romance' between Jewish song-
writers (many of them immigrants drawing

upon liturgical and folk music) and their
uniquely American universally loved songs.
We can be proud of the extensive influence
these songwriters have had on American
culture. Our library is fortunate to be one of
only four JCC libraries in the country to be
given this memorable exhibit."
In conjunction with the exhibit, the
library will host four programs at the
Berman Center:
• Oscar Andrew Hammerstein will
discuss his book The Hammersteins:
A Musical Theatre Family 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 20. Includes a book sign-
ing. Complimentary tickets: call (248)
661-1900.
• Dr. Tara Hayes will discuss "The
Musicals of Jewish Songwriters, American
Songs, 1910-1965" 7:30 p.m. Wednesday,
Sept. 14. Complimentary tickets: (248)
661-1900.
• Rudy Simons, with musical

Marcus J.

Freed: A new

look at kings

and yoga.

power that we've got."
Similarly, he was intrigued by bibli-
cal kings: Saul, Solomon, David and also
by Elijah the prophet. He saw parallels
between Shakespeare's kings and the kings
of ancient Israel, and he began to wonder:
"What happens when you really breathe
these characters to life? What can we learn
from them? What is really beneath them?"
What happens, for example, when kings
actually stand up for what they believe in?
Or what of men who become kings when
they never truly wanted the job?
These are ancient stories, "but very
human themes:' Freed says.

Elizabeth Applebaum is a marketing

specialist at the Jewish Community Center of

Metropolitan Detroit.

Marcus J. Freed, who is sponsored
by the JCC's Seminars for Adult
Jewish Enrichment (SAJE), will
appear in Solomon: King, Poet and
Lover, the Story of One Man and 700
Wives and Elijah: First Action Hero,
and teach a class on Bibliyoga, at
the JCC's Stephen Gottlieb Festival
of the Arts. See "Festival Schedule"
sidebar on page 59 for details and
more events.

accompaniment
by Jon Milan,
will speak on
"Michigan's
Great Jewish
Songwriters:
1920s-1960s"
11 a.m. Sunday,
Oscar Andrew
Sept. 25,
Hammerstein will
preceded by a
discuss his new book
kosher brunch
about his family
at 10:30 a.m.
history on Sept. 20.
$8 JHS and JCC
members/$10
nonmembers. RSVP to (248) 432-5517 or
info@michjewishhistory.org .
• Dr. M.L. Liebler, joined by musician
Peter Lewis (son of actress Loretta Young),
will speak on "The Poetry of Jewish
Songwriters, American Songs 1910-1965"
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11. Complimentary
tickets: (248) 661-1900.



September 8 2011

57

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