Initially named Eskesta (shoulder dancing in Amharic), Beta Dance Troupe was founded at the University of Haifa in 1995 by Dr. Ruth Eshel, to provide a framework for outstanding Ethiopian dancers.
The troupe members were students from the University who immigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 90s. Already at that stage, Haifa Arts Foundation has awarded a grant to support the troupe, intended to increase the number of the troupe's performances, in order to expose the show to as many public viewers as possible. The establishment of Eskesta promoted the Ethiopian community's image and contributed greatly to the preservation of traditions and folklore of Ethiopian immigrants. In the summer of 2005, the troupe changed its name to Beta (home, in Amharic), and has since appeared throughout Israel and abroad, under this name.
Newly named, Beta began its activity in Haifa's Nave Yosef Community Center, in a neighborhood that has a large population of Ethiopian immigrants. The troupe creates and performs contemporary dance based on traditional moves of the Ethiopian folklore and culture.
Some of the music used by the troupe was especially written for it by Israeli composers partly inspired by the tunes the dancers brought with them from their country of origin.
The current lineup includes eight male and female dancers in their twenties, mostly students or graduates of the University of Haifa. The troupe allows its members to utilize fully their talents as dancers and as artists.
Some of the troupe's veterans have moved on to the professional stage, and some are training Ethiopian youth companies, thus continuing to preserve this unique dance tradition.