The Ladino Project - Madre

MADRE, The Ladino project's current performance project is a tribute to the lives of Sephardic women over the ages.  MADRE expresses different aspects of women's lifecycle through Ladino folk-songs of North Africa and the Balkans, woven together with traditional and contemporary music, and interpreted through traditional and ethno-contemporary dance.  This project explores the women’s oral song tradition as it evolves over time from past to present, shedding light on the experience of womanhood in the old cultures of the Sephardic diaspora to the present day.  

Artists include: Rachel Valfer Sills (Vocals, Guitar & Oud) Eliyahu Sills (Ney, Bass) Dan Cantrell (Accordion, Piano) and Faisal Zedan (Percussion) 

Check out their website for more about their music and upcoming events. 




The Miriam's Well Project

“Miriam's Well” is an interfaith performance piece that draws from the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions. Interweaving dance, music, and sacred texts, “Miriam's Well” binds these three traditions to reveal their interconnectedness. This piece focuses on three representative female figures—Miriam, Maryam, and Mary. These three mothers share their experiences of receiving revelations at the well, a place of deep knowledge and faith. The work draws on the traditional expressive arts and rituals, contemporary theater and dance technique, emotionally engaging the audience in a rich image of a shared heritage. “Miriam's Well” features original choreographies and compositions by the collaborating artists. 

The title “Miriam's Well” is inspired by a biblical myth (midrash) that describes a well that followed the ancient Israelites throughout their forty years of wandering in the desert. This abundant source of water was in Miriam's merit, and is said to have dried up upon her passing. The legend says that the well is now located in the Lake Kinneret, of northern Israel/Palestine, and is said to be found in the middle of the lake only on the full moon. By drinking from it, one may be cured of physical or spiritual illness. Both in Jerusalem and Nazareth there are “Mary's Well's” held sacred to both Christian's and Muslim's. The well is symbolic of the depths of our souls, and just as all three women reach deep to find their truths it is revealed that they all connect to the one source. 

Water is the source of life, a human necessity and it's abundance a blessing in every tradition. The scarcity of water in the Middle-East has become a serious crisis, potentially even more dangerous than the religious and territorial conflicts. The very basic need to share water binds the people of the Middle-East together, since without peace the well will soon run dry. 



During the decade that I lived in Israel/Palestine, I came to see the effect of the powerful distrust and animosities that were poisoning the well, the universal source from which all three of the religious traditions are drawn. The inspiration for this piece comes from a deep sorrow that has grown in my heart from witnessing the breakdown of relations amongst the people based on their religious differences. My hope is that this piece will illuminate the common ground of these three traditions, offering a pathway for healing.





“A brave and beautiful new work at a significant time...”
— -Carmen Carnes, Senior Editor, Voice of Dance
“Miriam’s Well tells a story that unites us in our common humanity and divinity. A stunning devotional offering through dance!”
— Conscious Dancer Magazine
“Miriam’s Well is a highly visceral and visually engaging dance and music performance created by acclaimed Berkeley dancer and choreographer, Miriam Peretz.”
— David Templeton, Editor of The Bohemian
“Prayer in theater, theater as prayer, a beautiful and inspired evening of music, dance, deep attunement, and ecstatic love for the divine source of all life.” 
— Hilal Sala of the Mevlevi Sufi Order of America