KOL ISHA: a performance project about womens’ voices


About Kol Isha

"Kol Isha" is a dance-based exploration of female voice, visibility and silences through a dance-based exploration of Jewish female modesty practices. "Kol b'Isha Erva," a quote from The Song Of Songs, means "a woman's voice is sweet/pleasing." This phrase was used in the second century to equate a woman's voice with her nakedness, the source of the Jewish custom that forbids women to sing when men pray. “Kol Isha” has grown in scope so that in many observant Jewish communities women are voiceless and invisible.

The project will explore the hidden and revealed cloth-wrapped woman who transforms into an infinite abstract narrative of light and shadow, in which women's bodies and voices emerge, move, speak and sing. It will be a work for solo and group, synthesizing movement, live music, scored/devised processes, video, puppetry, mask and installation. It features five female Jewish and non-Jewish artists of different disciplines and ages directed and facilitated by Jennifer Gwirtz. It is scheduled for May 2020 at Performance Works Northwest. As midlife women fighting cultural invisibility, and finding the power to speak, this project is a living metaphor for our emerging female voices.

The performing cast features:

For a deeper dive into the personal story behind this project, read the blog posts, “When history comes to the surface: backstory on a new piece in four parts.


Video Clips

Kol Isha work-in-progress performance 4/13/19 @ Performance Works NW. Created and performed by Jennifer Gwirtz. Sound composition by Jennifer Gwirtz.

This is the solo segment that was begun in late 2018.

Kol Isha rehearsal clip from early 2019. (This clip uses filler music that may or may not be used in the final piece.)