Arabesque at the Arch

Jocelyn Green

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Arabesque at the Arch

If you happened to be strolling by the Gateway Arch late last month, at sunset Thursday, Aug. 25 or sunrise Friday, Aug. 26, you might have noticed a willowy, 25-year-old dancer in various ballerina poses in front of one of the stainless steel legs of the towering monument.

The dancer was Jocelyn Green, who graduated from Solomon Schechter Day School in 2005 (which has since merged to become Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School) as well as Parkway Central High School in 2009, and celebrated her bat mitzvah at Congregation B’nai Amoona. The photographer was Jonathan Givens, who is traveling to all 50 states to capture the beauty of dance amid the nation’s most beautiful landscapes.

The idea behind “Dance Across the U.S.A.,” which began in June and is scheduled to end Sept. 27 in Georgia, “is to showcase the variety and beauty of both our country, and the dancers that live within it,” according to the project’s website, danceatusa.com.  

“We want to be able to promote dance as both a wonderful career and lifestyle, as well as a great benefit to the development of children,” it continues.

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By late September, Givens will have trekked 22,000-miles in 90 days. Dancers involved in the project were culled from nearly 2,800 applicants, of which 150 were selected, including Green, to be photographed in national parks, national historic locations and state parks. 

In St. Louis, Green was among four Missouri-native dancers photographed at the Arch, which is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. She isn’t sure whether her image will be the one selected from the Show-Me State to be included in a book that Givens is creating to pay tribute to this year’s 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. Part of the proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the national parks and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“I would love to be in the book, for sure,” said Green, who studied dance for 13 years with Andrea Patzius and Donna Patzius-Hill at their namesake Patzius studio in Creve Coeur. “Regardless though, this is such a fun experience. 

“As a kid growing up, my family would go on vacations to different national parks. I loved seeing the mountains, waterfalls and the diversity of geography as well as hiking in the parks. So the fact that I am part of a project that goes to benefit both the arts and the national parks is a bonus.”

Green currently is a member of the Dayton Ballet, where she just entered her third season. Prior to that, she was in the Nashville Ballet’s second company. 

She said that being Jewish has informed her art, explaining: “I always think about tikkun olam – that was a big subject that we talked a lot about at Schechter and growing up Jewish. I think tikkun olam is something everyone does in their own way. I’d like to think I do that through dancing and showing its beauty. Hopefully, I’m making a difference in my own small way.”

For more information about Dance Across U.S.A,  to follow Given’s trip and/or contribute to the project, visit the group’s website: danceatusa.com.

Knead some togetherness

Chabad centers in St. Louis are sponsoring a Mega Challah Bake at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept.19 at the Orlando Gardens Event Center, 2050 Dorsett Village in Maryland Heights. It is the first in a series of “Jewish Togetherness” themed events to be offered in the coming months by Chabad in St. Louis.

The goal is to have 500 women of all ages from all walks of Judaism, including the unaffiliated, to “knead and shape their own challahs and celebrate their Jewishness together,” according to one Chabad rabbi. He joked that while men are welcome, too, the event is primarily designed for women.

No challah is actually baked at the two-hour event, which also features musical entertainment and dancing. Rather, each participant receives all the ingredients she needs to mix, knead and shape her own challah, which can then be baked at home. The cost of the event is $18.

The Mega Challah Bake is sponsored by Julie Raskas Eisenberg, Sharone Raskas Goodman and Elisheva Raskas, commemorating the 25th yahrtzeit of Stuart I. Raskas and the birthday of JoAnn Raskas.

For more information and registration, go to showmechabad.com/challahbake or call 314-725-0400. 

Daddy dearest

Also vying for your attention at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 is a reading, discussion and book signing by Washington University professor Henry I. Schvey at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave. Schvey’s new tragicomic memoir, “The Poison Tree” (Walrus Publishing, $15.95), explores his relationship with his father, and has been described as “an illumination of the secret life of a man who was powerful, highly respected, and greatly feared,” including by his son. In the telling, Schvey and ultimately, readers, grapple with the question — are we destined to become what are parents were or can we reshape out lives according to our own design?

This event is free, but proof of purchase of “The Poison Tree” from Left Bank Books is required to enter the signing line. 

Schvey chaired the Performing Arts Department of Wash U. from 1987 to 2007, when he stepped down from the position. He continues to teach, direct, and write as Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature. He also will be featured as one of the panelist at the “Missouri’s Own” session of the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18.

To read an excerpt from “The Poison Tree,” go to stljewishlight.com/schvey. For more information about the Left Bank event, go to left-bank.com or call 314-367-6731.