An Israeli dance company has been expelled from the Utah Dance Festival due to claims of inappropriate behavior. According to the organizers, the group members violated the festival's rules.
The Shalom Israel company has been representing the city of Ashdod for more than 20 years in festivals in Israel and abroad, and has even won the Carmiel Festival's Popular Dance Competition several times.
Recently, the group was invited to participate in three dance festivals in Utah, but according to a report filed by the deputy Israeli consul in Los Angeles, it did not represent Israel very well this time.
The organizers of the first festival of the three say all dance companies were given a limited period of time for rehearsal, but that Shalom Israel's artistic director Hilik Gino refused to let the group members get off the stage, claiming they had yet to complete their rehearsal.
Deputy consul: Israel disgracedAccording to the report, after issuing several warnings, the festival organizers were forced to call the police to remove the dancers from the stage. In addition, the company allegedly violated the festival rules by using recorded rather than original music.
Following the incident, the invitations to the two other festivals were canceled.
After receiving a letter of complaint from the festival organizers, the Israeli Consulate staff telephoned Gino, who denied the claims and downplayed the incident.
"The bottom line is that Israel has been disgraced," says the deputy consul. "I doubt any festival in Utah will invite a group from Israel in the near future."
Shalom Israel's manager, Haim Bitterman, said in response: "Claims being made about problems caused by the group members are false and odd. A policeman was not called to remove the group, and the company is continuing its journey as planned. Any other claims are detached from reality."
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