A sign pointing towards Vertigo Dance Company’s studio on Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey.
With a wealth of theaters and studios, Tel Aviv and its surroundings serve as the logical home to most of Israel’s choreographers and dance companies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jerusalem is a distant but growing second center. But it’s not only Israel’s urban areas that attract dancers. Scattered across the country’s more rural landscape, three unique dance communities are thriving: the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and Galilee Dance Village in the north, Adama in the desert south, and the more centrally located Vertigo Dance Company.
I ventured out of Tel Aviv to visit each of these company/communities during my initial survey of Israeli contemporary dance, and I will share the sights from my journeys with photo journals. This week we’ll start with my trip to Vertigo Dance Company‘s Eco-Art Village on Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey. I first published this photo journal of my trip to the Eco-Art Village on The Winger on May 23, 2008.
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Vertigo’s gorgeous, spacious studio.
A view from the studio – farm equipment and all!
It’s not often that you gaze out the window of a dance studio and see tractors with bales of hay – but during my visit to the Vertigo Dance Company on Sunday (May 18, 2008), that’s exactly what I saw. Located in Israel’s Elah Valley near the town of Beit Shemesh, Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey is home to the new Eco-Art Village, an intentional community of environmentally-friendly artists pioneered by Vertigo’s directors Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al. While Vertigo still maintains a studio and school in Jerusalem, its original home, the company now rehearses in the peaceful environs of the kibbutz.
When I was there on Sunday, I observed a rehearsal of Noa’s latest work, Ra’ash Levan (White Noise). The dance’s movement vocabulary – with influences from ballet, release technique, contact improvisation, and martial arts – kept me focused on the activity within the studio despite the temptation to look out the windows at the unfamiliar and beautiful surroundings. I returned to the Eco-Art Village on Tuesday for a school performance of Birth of the Phoenix. Premiered in 2004, Birth of the Phoenix is a site-specific work in which the company dances on a special dirt floor under a geodesic dome that is re-constructed for each show (the group has performed the work hundreds of times in Israel and abroad). Like White Noise, this work is extremely athletic with plenty of floorwork, soaring jumps, and partnering – and seeing the dancers throw themselves (at times literally!) into such full-bodied movement on a dirt floor was inspiring.
Here are a few photos to give you a sense of the setting for Birth of the Phoenix:
Me outside the geodesic dome for Vertigo’s Birth of the Phoenix
Inside the dome before the performance.
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Want to know more about some of the dances I mentioned in this post? For more on White Noise, you can visit Vertigo’s site about the production and read Henia Rottenberg’s in-depth article about the dance. Visit Vertigo Dance Company’s main site to find out more information about The Birth of the Phoenix. Finally, stay tuned to Dance In Israel for more articles on Vertigo and for an audio podcast with Noa Wertheim!