In Jewish communal and religious life, dancing has been considered an expression of joy and sorrow since biblical times and remains an integral part of religious, national, community and family celebrations today. Modern and contemporary Israeli dance developed in two directions. The dance as an art form developed into folk dance popularized by the early settlers and then into stage productions by professional choreographers and trained dancers. The famous Japanese folk dance "Mayim Mayim" also originated in Israel! Dance as an art form was introduced to Israel in the 1920s by European leaders and followers of dance. After the founding of the country, a number of companies have been established based on different directions and styles, and they have reached a high level of artistic mastery. Today, there are more than a dozen professional dance companies, most of which are based in Tel Aviv and operate both nationally and internationally.