Interactive Video Dance Game Hits The Jewish Market

interactive dance game picVIDEO: In 1998, Dance Dance Revolution, a Japanese musical arcade game that challenged players to follow onscreen dance moves by stepping on corresponding arrows on a dance pad, took the world by storm.  Twelve years later, a Borough Park woman hopes that Step It Up, a similar game featuring popular Jewish songs being released in time for Chanukah, will do the same.

Faigy Grossman first heard about Dance Dance Revolution from her students as a Chumash teacher at Brooklyn’s Nefesh Academy in 2007.  She was fascinated by the skills needed to master the game, which seemed to be the perfect blend of aerobic exercise and good, clean fun.  Grossman wondered whether there was some way to adapt the game for the Jewish market, by keeping the underlying concept but substituting Jewish music. 

gab765-316x512In 2008 Grossman decided to make her dream a reality, doing all of the graphics and most of the programming and choreography for Step It Up on her own.  Grossman credits Izzy (A’H) and Benny Taubenfeld of Sameach Music, Neshoma Orchestra and producer Avi Newmark for being especially helpful when it came to allowing use of their music.  Song selection required many factors, according to Grossman, including popularity, tempo, complexity and originality of rhythm. 

“I particularly looked for songs with multiple instruments and layered sounds because that way the dances never get old,” explained Grossman in an interview with VIN News.

“The expert level can follow the quick drumbeat, the hard level can follow the string section, with the medium level following the basic keyboard sound.” 

The game, which features sixty songs from some of today’s most popular artists including Avraham Fried and Lipa Schmeltzer, includes software and a dance pad that attaches to any home computer.  As the music plays on the computer, scrolling arrows appear on the monitor and players step on corresponding arrows on the dance pad.  Players are scored by how well they followed the rhythm and can see not only how many calories they burned but also their improving scores as they progress.  A two player mode allows players to challenge each other as well. 

Introductory versions of Step It Up featuring 30 songs are already in numerous homes, schools and private fitness centers. The game also made its way this past summer to Camp Anna Heller and Camp Bnos, where a customized version of the game was used to break out color war.  Response to the introductory version has been overwhelmingly positive according to Grossman.

While Grossman stresses the health benefits associated with playing a game like Step It Up she isn’t the only one claiming that dance games can be an effective form of exercise.  A 2007 article in the New York Times cited studies by the Mayo Clinic and the University of West Virginia which proclaimed that obese children who played Dance Dance Revolution regularly received significant health benefits including improved blood pressure, overall fitness scores and endothelial function, which reflects the arteries’ ability to deliver oxygen.  Not only has Dance Dance Revolution been incorporated into the physical education curriculum in hundreds of schools all across the United States including CalTech and University of Kansas, but West Virginia, with the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation, has incorporated the game into the physical education curriculum in all of its public schools.

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  1. Finally! BH! This is what Klal Yisroel was missing all the years!
    What a sorry state of affairs that our watered down version of Fruma Yidden has sunk to. We need everything that Goyim have? We can’t be different? We can’t be special?!

  2. Excercise is very important for all of us, but, I question the use of songs with heilige pesukim to use for excercise. Can’t it just be plain music with no vocalism?

  3. sad

    tishen of rebbes are bittul torah

    zemiros shabbos are old fashioned

    kumzits if for the weak learner

    great what do we get for bashing our mesorah?

    dance dance

    we are heading down aslippery slope

    everything is muttar

    everything is ok

    I predict we will have a jewish version of DWTS

    maybe someone will say its a good thing


    i hope we will recognize ourselves in 20 years

    yes i’m looking to smile

    this is not doing ot for me


  4. That would be assur under the Halachos of Zecher L’churban; the heter for music is the Pesukim are Shevachos to Hashem, or bring a person closer to Him, and plain music (especially plain dance music) does not make the cut.

  5. As soon as someone comes up with an innovative idea that can provide healthy, clean entertainment for kids AT HOME rather than outside in the gassen, there will be the knee jerk reaction of Treif. Please, when everything is אסור, sadly, everything becomes מותר.
    The program is terrific, gives kids a healthy workout and develops coordination and dexterity. Would you rather all that was done to raucous, goyish music? כל הכבוד and הצלחה רבה to Faigy Grossman.

  6. we are proud parents of a family that have turned pro at this calorie burning fun game.
    the customer service is great.
    we have recommended it to a number of friends of our children and now they own it too.

    its a real professional production,

    as some of the people who have come over to try it out attest the immense amount of work FG invested in developing this is obvious.

    top rated production by a top rated person.

    best of luck in all your future products thank you again

  7. i bought it in toys for thought. in the basement of the store they have a huge machine for you to try it out. i love it, my kids love it. excellent fun and a great workout.

  8. This is really fantastic! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get it!

    And for all of you who are complaining and thinking “omg this is just so horrible, klal yisroel is falling apart boo hoo D:”

    Guess what? I know plenty of people who go to the goyish arcade down and play DDR there. To GOYISH music. In front of GOYIM.

    So, pick your choice. Which would you rather?

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