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Montana Tucker dances with Nova Festival survivors and goes viral

A video of a dance piece by American entertainer Montana Tucker, in which she performs with massacre survivors at the Nova Music Festival and Lilach Friedman's dance ensemble, filmed at the site of the massacre during her recent visit to Israel, quickly went viral after its release on Monday.

The performance, dedicated to the memory of the 364 young women and men massacred by Hamas on October 7, was part of the NOVA dance project. A longer version of this dance piece recently won first prize among 28 countries at the Dance Grand Prix 2024 competition in Barcelona. Lilach Friedman's dance ensemble created it as a tribute to four members murdered by Hamas on October 7 at the Nova festival. Tucker, the survivors and the ensemble members recreated some of the horrific scenes of that day. The creators also expressed hope that the memories of those who died will never be forgotten and that those who experienced the massacre will find a way to continue celebrating life through dance and creativity.

The video was widely shared on social media less than a day after it was posted, with the aim of countering voices online denying or justifying the massacre and raising awareness and educating those who may not know much about the events of October 7.

“Meeting survivors in the past was moving, but being on the festival grounds for the first time was deeply impactful,” said Tucker, who was invited to Israel by Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the producer and initiator of this project, and wore yellow in the video to show her solidarity with the hostages still held in Gaza. “It was important to me to be here to remind the world how this war started. I want to use my work as a dancer and the power of social media to share the stories of these wonderful people who lost their lives for no reason.”

“There are many mediums through which we should tell the story of the massacre and ensure it is not forgotten,” said Sacha Roytman, CEO of CAM. “The partygoers at the Nova festival simply came to dance, so it is only fitting that dance is the medium to preserve the story in our collective memory, to pay tribute to those who were killed, raped and kidnapped, and to send the message that we will not be subjugated.”

“You are my heroes,” Tucker told the survivors. “It is incredibly brave of you to come back here and take part in this healing project. This is a powerful response to those who wanted to break you.”

Survivors share their feelings

Natalie Sanandaji, a Nova survivor who now works as a press officer for CAM, expressed her feelings when she returned to the site of the massacre: “Since October 7, I have been telling the story of what happened here. I am one of the lucky ones who can still tell it and give a voice to those whose voices have been silenced. It is so important that Montana is here in Israel raising awareness of what happened.”

Michal Ohana, another survivor who participated in the NOVA dance, said: “As a survivor of the massacre at the Nova Festival, participating in this performative dance with Montana Tucker and other survivors was much more than an artistic event. Despite the terrible pain and loss, we return to dance because it is our medicine, our refuge, and now it has taken on an even deeper meaning. It brings a little light into the darkness.”

American entertainer Montana Tucker stands in solidarity with the survivors of the massacre at the Nova Music Festival. (Source: CAM)

The performance is part of the “We Will Dance Again!” initiative, carried out in collaboration with Lev Batuach (A Safe Heart), an organization founded on the afternoon of October 7 by eight psychologists who provide specialized trauma treatment to the thousands of survivors of the Nova Festival.

So far, Lev Batuach has helped around 3,000 survivors with the support of CAM, providing them with regular psychological treatment. In addition to private treatment, Lev Batuach runs retreats and group meetings with hundreds of survivors. They also provide support and care for families, which plays an important role in the survivors' recovery process.

“There are many ways to heal trauma, and this performative dance is important for some of the survivors,” said Efrat Aton, CEO of Lev Batuach. “Eight months have passed since the horrific massacre, and we have worked with over 3,000 survivors, offering them tailored treatment to meet their needs. We have become a supportive community for the survivors. However, the trauma is still active and rehabilitation is still taking a long time. Until the abductees return home, the real recovery process cannot begin. We are committed to providing long-term professional care and support to each and every survivor. This is not only our moral duty, but also our responsibility towards the future of society as a whole.”

CAM is a global coalition with more than 850 partner organizations and five million people from diverse religious, political and cultural backgrounds who share a common mission to combat the world's oldest hatred.