I still remember my visit to Adama in April 2008 quite vividly. After soaking in some of the calm of the dance center’s desert surroundings, I switched gears and entered a whirlwind of activity: taking class with Liat Dror, interviewing her, observing more goings-on, and improvising in an evening jam. As if the day wasn’t stimulating enough, I then sat down with Nir Ben-Gal for another interview.
When I turned off the digital voice recorder that evening at midnight, I offered Nir a heartfelt thanks for speaking with me. Not only had he been generous with his time and energy – we started the interview late at night, after he had led the warm-up for Adama’s spirited jam – but he was extraordinarily generous with his thoughts and his passion. Besides talking about his pathway into dance, his creative process, and the workings of Adama, Nir shared his outlook on dance, religion, culture, healing, and non-violence. It was an inspiring conversation that continues to surface in my thoughts even outside of my research. May you be similarly moved!
Video: Adama in Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal’s Airfield
Interested in visiting Adama? Adama is hosting a Magic Summer Night from July 16-17, which includes a performance of the company’s latest work.
The several hour trek south from Tel Aviv to Mizpe Ramon in the Negev desert is tiring, but at the end of the journey is a refreshing oasis: Adama, an extraordinary dance center created by Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal. I first experienced the magic of Adama during a two-day visit in January 2008 and was thrilled to return in April 2008 for some more dancing and an interview with each of these choreographers.
I interviewed Liat after she taught a dance class for the Adama school’s students, the company members, a group of photography students visiting from Sderot, and a few “tourists” like myself who had dropped in for a few days. The mixture of people was as unique as Adama itself. Intrigued? Join us as Liat talks about how she and Nir forged a new path in Israeli contemporary dance, moved to the desert, and developed an innovative approach to healthy, healing movement.
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To catch a glimpse of Liat and Nir’s groundbreaking and prize-winning Two Room Apartment (1987), which we discuss in our interview, check out the first minute of this video. The rest of the video focuses on Nir and Liat’s current work in the desert, offering an inside look at Adama and scenic views of Mizpe Ramon.
Video: Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal
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Adama’s dancers rehearsing in April 2008.
Adama is currently gearing up for a busy summer: the company runs a summer course from July 12-17 and a teachers’ course from July 25-28. Visitors may also enjoy Adama’s Magic Summer Night from July 16-17, which includes a performance of the company’s latest work.
Video: An excerpt from Airfield, Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal’s latest creation
Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror first burst onto the stage with Two Room Apartment in 1987, and they continued to create a stir with their choreography throughout the 1990s. But when I got to Tel Aviv last year, the couple was nowhere to be found.
It’s not that Nir and Liat disappeared from the country’s dance scene. They just carved out a non-traditional space for themselves in Mizpe Ramon, a small desert town a few hours southeast from Tel Aviv. There, in a place they call Adama (“earth”), they live, teach, and create.
Occasionally the pair still brings their company to Tel Aviv for performances. After months of hearing a bit about Nir and Liat, I finally got to see their Prince Charming in November 2007 at Tmuna Theater. But to find out more about Adama, I decided to venture into the desert for a visit in January 2008. And then again in April 2008. And, well, again in June 2008.
I first wrote the article below for The Winger after my second stay at Adama.
Photo: At Adama’s Shavuot festival in 2008, dancers gathered around for an aerial dance workshop.
While some dancers and movers will gather at Vertigo Dance Company’s Eco-Art Village for the Hagiga festival during Shavuot, others will journey into the Negev desert for a different event: Adama’s Hagiga Levana (White Festival or White Celebration).
Adama is a unique dance center run by choreographers Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror (more on them and the center soon, I promise!). Last year, their Shavuot festival was called Dance in the Desert and was a collaboration with the Amuta or Choreographers Society. I attended the festival and made a photo journal called “Dance in the Desert” for The Winger; you can check it out below.
This year’s Hagiga Levana will be a smaller and more intimate festival than Dance in the Desert, but it should be no less warm and celebratory. Attendees can participate in workshops as well as find time for themselves to reflect in the peace of the desert. They’ll also enjoy a performance of the Adama company’s latest work. You can visit Adama’s website for more information on this Shavuot event, which will run from May 28-30.
Video: Then: Ronit Ziv’s Rose Can’t Wait, from the 1999 Shades of Dance Festival
On my way home from “Then and Now,” a special opening program of the Shades of Dance (Gvanim) festival, J.S. Bach’s Air on the G String played on my iPod. Immediately, images from a black-and-white film of choreographer Doris Humphrey’s Air for the G String flashed through my mind. Humphrey’s dance has not only been immortalized on film but stayed alive in reconstructions from Labanotation score; it’s a powerful reminder that choreography doesn’t need to be shelved a few years or even many decades after its premiere.
This was an appropriate vision after a concert which not only celebrated the new but paid tribute to the old. Opening a festival devoted to emerging choreographers, “Then and Now” featured excerpts of four dances which, in the days when the festival doubled as a competition, won the coveted first prize. Selections from Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror’s Two-Room Apartment (1987), Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al’s Vertigo (1992), Barak Marshall’s Aunt Leah (1995), and Ronit Ziv’s Rose Can’t Wait (1999) shared the stage with excerptsfrom the choreographers’ latest dances.
These works were met with an extremely warm reception, and I’m sure that the choreographers’ own performances contributed to the excitement. The prolonged unison and matter-of-fact manners of Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror, the high-speed actions and reactions of Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al, and the daring physicality of Ronit Ziv and fellow dancer Noa Rosenthal were riveting to watch – especially because, in the case of Nir & Liat and Noa & Adi, these choreographers no longer perform on a regular basis. (( Barak Marshall, who is now based part-time in L.A., was not in Israel for this performance. ))