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Dancing in Israel: Summer Workshops

Posted on 24 April 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Sheetal Gandhi’s students at Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2009. Photo by Tully Chen.

When I first came to Israel to research dance in 2007, I occasionally crossed paths in open classes with other dancers from abroad.  While local studios have always welcomed dancers from around the world, increasingly, short-term seasonal workshops are geared towards an international population of students.  Thinking about expanding your horizons by training in Israel?  Here are a few programs to keep on your radar.


Video: KCDC’s International Summer Program

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC) has launched an international summer dance program for dancers age 15-20. Taught by directors and dancers of both the main company and its junior ensemble as well as guest teachers, this program’s offerings include ballet and modern technique, strengthening sessions, and classes in the repertory of KCDC’s artistic director Rami Be’er. Participants live in guest houses on Kibbutz Ga’aton, home to the company and the Galilee Dance Village, and besides enjoying their stay on the kibbutz, the dancers enrich their experience abroad with weekend trips to other locations in Israel.

KCDC’s 2011 program is scheduled for July 7-21, and more information can be found on the company’s website.


Dancers at the Gaga Intensive Summer Course. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Since its inception in 2008, the Gaga Intensive has grown in size and popularity. Taught by Ohad Naharin and members of the Batsheva Dance Company, the two-week workshop includes Gaga/dancers classes, repertory classes focusing on Naharin’s choreography, and methodics classes, sessions which enable dancers to more deeply research key concepts. The course is open to professional dancers and dance students age 18 and up, and classes are held at Batsheva’s studios at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv.

The 2011 Gaga Intensive Summer Course is already full, but you can stay tuned to the Gaga website for updates about future workshops.


Video: Bridge Choreographic Dialogues 2009

Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues began as a program linking dance artists in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, but it has grown into a broader endeavor with an increasingly diverse international faculty and student body.  Held at the Suzanne Dellal Centre under the artistic direction of Barak Marshall, the two-week program is open to dancers age 20 and up who have at least three years of professional experience.  While the exact offerings depend on the program’s faculty, Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues usually features classes in ballet, modern dance, and contemporary repertory as well as choreographic workshops.

The 2011 Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues will be held from July 31-August 12.  More information can be found on Suzanne Dellal’s website and the workshop’s website.  

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Tel Aviv Dance 2010

Posted on 19 September 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Preview of Tel Aviv Dance 2010

Four years after its founding, the Tel Aviv Dance festival – an outgrowth and expansion of the earlier Dance Europa festival – is now an eagerly anticipated annual staple of Israel’s jam-packed dance calendar.  From October 4-30, dance lovers can take a whirlwind world tour of exciting, exceptionally diverse dance from the comfort of two local dance hubs, the Suzanne Dellal Centre and the Israeli Opera – Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC).

Yair Vardi (director of Suzanne Dellal) and Hannah Munitz (director of the Opera House) declared in a press release, “As each year in the festival, we try to keep the Israeli audience up to date and present contemporary dance from all over the world, including intriguing, far-away places. This year the festival will host premieres from dance companies from South Africa, South Korea, and China alongside those from the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel.”

The numbers are indeed impressive: by the end of the festival, 12 companies from 9 countries will present 34 performances.  And the breadth of genres and aesthetics on display is breathtaking.  Tel Aviv Dance 2010′s programming runs the gamut from hip-hop to ballet and offers lavish large-scale works alongside more intimate and modest approaches.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra. Photo by Hugo Glendinning. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Tel Aviv Dance 2010′s lineup includes some of the biggest names, old and new, in modern and contemporary dance.  From Belgium hails Eastman, a young company headed by the acclaimed Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.  Eastman will offer Aleko, Faun, and a new work at Suzanne Dellal.   Cherkaoui’s striking Sutra, a collaboration with sculptor Antony Gormley, composer Szymon Braska, and monks from the Shaolin Temple in China, will also be performed at the Opera.

The U.S. modern dance powerhouse Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will also visit the Opera, bringing not only Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations but also George Faison’s Suite Otis, Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, and Robert Battle’s Unfold.

Kader Attou’s Petites Histoires.com.  Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Hip-hop also makes a few appearances on this year’s program.  The French troupe Accrorap brings Algerian choreographer Kader Attou’s PetitesHistoires.com, while ten male dancers from South Korea will offer Shin Chang Ho’s No Comment. On the same bill with No Comment is Kim Jin-Mi’s A Body Conflicting with Emotion, a work for four women.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Carmina Burana. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Some ballet influence is visible as well in Tel Aviv Dance 2010′s lineup.  From Canada hails the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Mauricio Wainrot’s Carmina Burana and Peter Quanz’s In Tandem.  10 principal dancers from the acclaimed New York City Ballet present a program called To Dance, with excerpts of works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and Tom Gold.

Dada Masilo’s Carmen.  Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Rising star Dada Masilo, a 24-year-old dancer and choreographer from South Africa, has also revealed a predilection towards ballet influences in her work.  For Tel Aviv Dance, Masilo brings her dance theater work Carmen to Suzanne Dellal.

Also among this year’s offerings is the Spanish dancer and choreographer Miguel Angel Berna’s sweeping Goya, inspired by painter Francisco Goya.

Maria Kong in Miss Brazil.  Photo by Ascaf.

Dance from Israel forms a strong presence in this year’s programming.  Barak Marshall’s Rooster, which was a success at the Opera House during Tel Aviv Dance 2009, will make an appearance in 2010 at Suzanne Dellal.  Batsheva Dance Company will present house choreographer Sharon Eyal’s Bill, which debuted last May, while the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will unveil Rami Be’er’s newest work, Transform. Maria Kong Dancers Company, a collective of dancer-choreographers Anderson Braz, Talia Landa, Leo Lerus, and Ya’ara Moses, will offer their own creation Miss as well as Brazil by Idan Cohen.

For a more in depth look at what is in store during Tel Aviv Dance, check out the longer video below.  The clips are, in order, Accrorap, Shin Chang Ho, Kim Jin-Mi, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Dada Masilo, Barak Marshall, New York City Ballet, Batsheva Dance Company, Eastman, Miguel Angel Berra, Winnipeg Royal Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Maria Kong, and Eastman.

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Israeli Dance at Summer Festivals Abroad

Posted on 05 August 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Ohad Naharin’s Hora.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

While SummerDance 2010 has presented an array of Israeli dance at home, a number of Israeli choreographers and companies have also performed at prestigious festivals abroad. For those of you who missed seeing them live – or want to relive the experience of being in the audience – here are excerpts of some of the works that toured the world.

In July, Batsheva Dance Company brought Ohad Naharin’s Hora (2009) to France’s Montpellier Danse, which co-produced the work.

In June, the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company toured their signature work Oyster (1999) to Durham, North Carolina, for the American Dance Festival (ADF).

At ADF, Avshalom Pollak talked about the nature of his work with Inbal Pinto and the unique mix of elements which shape each dance.


Barak Marshall’s Monger (2008) made its American debut at Jacob’s Pillow in Beckett, Massachusetts.  Monger is scheduled to tour the U.S. in April-May 2011, with appearances at the Joyce Theater in New York; White Bird in Portland, Oregon; UCLA’s Royce Hall; and additional performances in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and West Palm Beach.

At Jacob’s Pillow, Barak Marshall talked about confronting anti-Israeli sentiment on tour and presenting a different side of Israeli culture to foreign audiences.


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Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2010

Posted on 07 July 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2009

“My personal aim is to really create an Impulstanz type of workshop program in Israel,” says Barak Marshall, choreographer and artistic director of Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues.  “Ideally, that’s really where I want to take this festival.  I think it’s necessary, and I think that the time is right for us to have an international dance festival.”

It’s an ambitious goal, but as Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues grows and evolves each year, it’s also one that is perfectly logical and increasingly attainable.

From its start, Bridge was centered on building strong international connections.  In 2006, Miki Yerushalmi of the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership approached Barak Marshall about creating a dance program.  Marshall, who currently splits his time between the two cities, recruited UCLA and the Suzanne Dellal Center as partners and developed what he calls a “choreographic exchange program.”  During the summers of 2007, 2008, and 2009, L.A.-based choreographers – often working in diverse forms absent from the Israeli scene, such as hip-hop and kathak dance – traveled to Tel Aviv to teach two-week workshops with Israeli dancers.  Meanwhile, in May 2008, Ronit Ziv, Niv Sheinfeld, and Idan Cohen shared their artistry with L.A. dancers in a similar intensive.  Plans are in the works for more Israeli choreographers to teach and perform in L.A. in the future.

Here in Israel, the Bridge summer course is becoming an annual highlight of the Tel Aviv’s bustling dance scene, providing an infusion of wide-ranging workshops with a world-renowned visiting faculty.  This summer, about 100 dancers – including 5 students from the prestigious CalArts dance department, a handful of other dancers from the U.S. and Europe, and tens of Israelis from around the country – are expected to study with the most international roster of teachers yet.  “I really wanted to for a very long time bring a more European influence into the course,” explains Marshall of his decision to expand the faculty from its original L.A. base.  Among this year’s teachers are Damien Jalet, who has risen to prominence as a choreographer within the Belgian collective Les Ballets C. de la B. and as the co-director of Eastman alongside Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; Lisi Estradas, a Spanish-trained former Batsheva Ensemble dancer who also works with Les Ballets C. de la B.; and Michal Mualem, who danced with several local choreographers before joining Sasha Waltz & Guests and creating her own productions with her partner Giannalberto de Filippis.  “These are 3 international and incredible artists, and I went very consciously after them to come and do the course,” Marshall reflects.

Further adding international flavor to this year’s Bridge are South Korean choreographer Chuck Park, the Paris Opera Ballet’s Bruno Bouché, and Caracas Ballet founder Maria Barrios Zaks.  Even the teachers who are fixtures on the local scene, like Naomi Perlov, Jay Augen, and Marshall himself, boast a significant record of international work.

The diversity of the faculty pays dividends for Bridge’s dancers.  “What I’m really trying to expose the dancers to are just a myriad of different ways of moving, a myriad of vocabularies and knowledges,” states Marshall.  Classes in ballet, contemporary technique, and contemporary repertory as well as choreographic workshops allow dancers to work with multiple teachers, sample a variety of styles, and broaden their horizons.  With this particular select faculty, even a single teacher may expose dancers to a range of movement.  Marshall highlights Jalet’s “cross-cultural approach,” marveling that he and Cherkaoui mix “theater with ethnic movement with release with acrobatics; it’s just endless, the world he brings!”

Besides expanding the participants’ physical abilities, Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2010 will challenge dancers to develop their artistry as active members of the choreographic process.  Marshall remarks, “The emphasis this year is the dancer as creator . . . these other choreographers really have a very democratic and dancer-as-creator mode of creation, so what I hope to really offer to the participants is to open their eyes to their abilities as a creator, not just as an interpreter.”  Furthermore, Marshall notes that Bridge has served as a launching pad for dancers’ careers, enabling them to meet both local and visiting choreographers and fostering strong professional connections.  Marshall himself has found several dancers for his recent works Monger and Rooster through Bridge.

The stimulating interaction runs both ways, with not only the dancers but also the choreographers benefiting from the mix of participants and approaches.  Most of all, Marshall explains, foreign choreographers who have taught at Bridge have discovered what he calls “the wow of the Israeli dancer and the Israeli artist and the Israeli soul.”  He elaborates, “Everybody who has participated in the three previous workshops came with their own preconceptions of Israel, first of all, and consequently of the Israeli dancer, from their limited knowledge.  I know that everybody has gone away with this deep impression about the power of Israeli dancers.  And I’m always very, very proud of that; I think that Israeli dancers offer something [that is] so powerful and overwhelming and all-encompassing.”

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Barak Marshall’s “Rooster”

Posted on 05 February 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: Barak Marshall’s Rooster

Another guest at International Exposure 2009, Talia Baruch, covers the San Francisco-area dance scene for her blog GoSee– Dance. She wrote some reviews of dances she saw here in Israel in December for her website and is generously sharing them here on Dance In Israel.

Talia’s third article is about Barak Marshall’s Rooster, which was a hit at both Tel Aviv Dance 2009 and International Exposure 2009.  Read below to learn more rich background about Rooster and to hear Talia’s take on the work.

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International Exposure 2009 — Suzanne Dellal Center | Barak Marshall

By Talia Baruch

ROOSTER

Co-production of Israeli Opera and the Suzanne Dellal Center

Choreography: Barak Marshall | Costume Design: Maor Zabar | Set Design: Sergey Berezin | Lighting Design: Felice Ross | Photography: Avi Avin & Kfir Bolotin | Guest Artist: Margalit Oved | Soprano: Lilia Gretsova | Review & Copywriting: Talia Baruch

This dance-theater piece is based on I.L. Peretz’s Bontsha the Silent, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and on stories from the Bible and Yemenite folklore.

“Here on earth the death of Bontsha the Silent made no impression at all. Ask anyone: Who was Bontsha, how did he live, and how did he die? Did his strength slowly fade, did his heart slowly give out, or did the very marrow of his bones melt under the weight of his burdens? Who knows?

Bontsha was a human being; he lived unknown, in silence, and in silence he died. He passed through our world like a shadow. When Bontsha was born no one took a drink of wine; there was no sound of glasses clinking. When he was confirmed he made no speech of celebration. He existed like a grain of sand at the rim of a vast ocean, amid millions of other grains of sand exactly similar, and when the wind at last lifted him up and carried him across to the other shore of that ocean, no one noticed, no one at all.”

I.L. Peretz, from Bontsha the Silent

After watching a bounty of dance performances back-to-back at the 2009 International Exposure Dance Festival/Suzanne Dellal Center, it was Rooster that hit home and made me go see the show a second time the following week.

Barak Marshall’s Rooster. Photo by Kfir Bolotin.

Rooster opens with the night chirps of grasshoppers and ends with the twitter of morning birds.  The events unfold in & out one night.  One night that digests interactions in a Kafkan sequence, that throws in the mix Theater of the Absurd, Vaudeville and Greek Mythology, that reels in Balkan, Gypsy, Middle-Eastern and American-Yiddish tunes, all mashed up into one burning stew.

The show reveals a man’s subconscious stream of thoughts under the spell of a dream.  And trailing through this flow of feverish thoughts is the vivid image of the Rooster, which also means Gever (“man”) in Hebrew.  The allusion to the story of I.L. Peretz’ Bontsha the Silent, implies Barak’s appeal for self-assertion: “trust your desires and act on them.”

The Rooster, with its flamboyant erected cockscomb and fluttering feathers — pecking, idling, roosting, kakadoodledooing — mirrors the villagers: their rapacious jealousy, pestering gossip, vaunting vanity.

And in all that chaos of color and cruelty and caring, of plucked feathers, warm embraces and longing to our womb roots, there lays the connection between hen and human. Being chicken — fearful; plucking feathers — slaughter; Tarnegol Kaparot — sacrifice (the Jewish ritual of sacrificing a rooster for atonement); and the forever existential loop: Which came first, chicken or egg?

Barak Marshall’s Rooster. Photo by Avi Avin.

Barak Marshall was born in Los Angeles to a Yemenite Israeli performer — Margalit Oved — founder of the Inbal Theater Dance Company. Barak, a true auteur, nursed on the rich brew of his cultural diversity. In his creative work, he draws themes, flavors and voices from the exotic ingredients that nourish his roots. He peppers his staged art with implied Jewish heritage, Yemenite folklore and biblical text, like the excerpt noting the twelve tribes (this piece is written for twelve dancers).

Barak created Rooster for the 2009 Tel Aviv Dance Festival, after the great success of his former piece — Monger — featured at the 2008 Tel Aviv Dance Festival.

Talia Baruch is a writer and translator covering the dance/theater scene in San Francisco, where she has been living for the past 11 years. She is the founder of Copyous, providing creative copywriting and Localization Strategies. The ingredients that shaped her life are the explosive dance scene in urban Tel Aviv, where she grew up, the pea-green English country side, where she inhaled a handsome amount of fresh-manure & horseback-countered through endless woods, and the 24/7 Localization/Internationalization business bustle, that put perspective to it all. www.copyous.com

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