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  • Abby Rubin

Dancing into Vulnerability

Hi there! My name is Abby Rubin, a New Jersey Jew, and I study recreational therapy at

The University of Utah, as well as teach ballet to kids and adults. In my spare time I

enjoy dancing, yoga, cooking, and spending time outside with my friends.

I was recently contacted by JOYMOB events - a company that focuses on promoting

joy, belonging, and human interaction through creative and unique experiences – to

speak on bar/bat/b’nai mitzvahs and teach some Jewish dances at a Sundance Film

Festival event. Whew! That was a lot… and it felt like a lot! Even though I was thrilled to be a part of such a fun and collaborative experience, combining my love for dance and Jewish culture, I was in a very weird place mentally. I was coming back from a serious break up - my ups and downs felt severe. I was also trying to understand why I had been having such a hard time with time management/organization/school etc. (ADHD diagnosis to follow). I also had never spoken into a mic to a whole crowd of people! Dancing was no problem but using my voice?! That’s a whole other story.

So, putting it simply, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Bahaa Chmait, social architect (his Instagram bio reads) and lead at JOYMOB, quickly

became my guide through this process – my Moses in a 40-year trek through the desert if you will. We had weekly check-ins to make sure we were on the same page and feeling good. I had chosen three types of Jewish dances to focus on (Yemenite,

Klezmer, and Mizrahi), picked up music, and choreographed dances.

I had a phone call with the Rabbi at Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, Avremi, to make sure I felt comfortable with all the information I knew about bar/bat/b’nai mitzvahs and Jewish culture in Utah. It was a lovely conversation, and I was feeling very good with the information I had cultivated.

A few days before the showing, my nerves began rattling my bones. Imposter syndrome was creeping in. I called Bahaa and began to vent. This whole thing was becoming too much. After my anxiety spiel, I waited for Bahaa to get upset. How could I behave this way – so unprofessionally – so close to the event? I couldn’t believe I had said anything at all. Was it too late to hang up and somehow blame it on my ex? When Bahaa finally spoke (after what felt like a forever of nervous sweating) he was nothing but patient and loving.

“How would we grow as a team if we didn’t have conversations like this?” he asked me. He took my anxiety and held it gently. My heartrate began to neutralize.

I couldn’t stop thanking him. He really did become my metaphorical Moses and

“let my anxiety go”!

The day of the event was nothing but exuberant energy. I was prepared, nerves were calm, and I was ready to perform. Even with all the chaotic, I was reminded how

important it is to be open, communicate, and be vulnerable. The whole experience was a lovely adventure, and I look forward to working with Bahaa again in the future.

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