My motive in making Dancing Auschwitz was to create a new response and a fresh interpretation of the past and its historical trauma. I felt that people, especially the younger generation, were becoming desensitised and numb to the story of the Holocaust and the images that represented it. I felt I needed to create artwork that succeeded in awakening and reminding people of the important lessons the Holocaust and all genocides teach us – namely, an awareness of our own prejudices, stereotyping and intolerance. I hoped this awareness would influence others throughout the world.
The dance represents the past, present and future generations. I not only wanted to express a celebration of life, but I also wanted to evoke the feeling of absence, loss and mourning.
In January, I posted the three Dancing Auschwitz videos on YouTube. The first clip I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz. Part 1, featuring Gloria Gaynor’s song I Will Survive, received nearly 700,000 hits in less then 10 days. The clip shows three generations of my family dancing at concentration camps and sites throughout Europe, including Auschwitz death camp in Poland, Dachau in Germany, and Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. My father, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, was one of the dancers. At one point he is shown making a peace sign while wearing a T-shirt with the word ‘survivor’ printed on it.
When questioned about the clip, my father responds: ‘The dancing was very important because we are alive. We survived. We were dancing to the song of survival. We also prayed for the dead at the camps before we danced.’
The reaction to the video after it was uploaded to Youtube was overwhelming and varied. Initially Neo Nazis responded with ‘hate’ messages. There were many that thought the video trivialised the victims’ suffering at the hands of the Nazis. Overall, there has been a flood of positive as well as negative responses and a raw picture of world thought towards this issue has emerged.