Israel’s Curtain Up Festival: “Another Op’ning, Another Show” for Contemporary Dance

Events, Israeli Choreographers, Israeli Festivals, Video Views

(Hillel Kogan’s “Everything” will premiere in the 2008 Curtain Up Festival)

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“Another Op’ning, another show
In Philly, Boston, or Baltimo’
A chance for stage folks to say hello
Another op’ning of another show.”
-Lyrics by Cole Porter for the musical Kiss Me Kate

It’s time for another op’ning of another show – again, and again, and again (and again) – in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this month. The 2008 Curtain Up Festival will bring 4 programs worth of premieres by independent choreographers to the Suzanne Dellal Center and The Lab (HaMaabada) during December.  Michael Getman, Maya Levy, Rachel Erdos, Tomer Sharabi, Maya Stern, and Hillel Kogan will each present new works, as will the collaborative teams of Sahar Azimi and Odelya Kuperberg; Yossi Berg and Oded Graf; and Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor with the participation of Ronit Ziv.  The entire festival opens at Suzanne Dellal on December 3 with a special presentation of Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak‘s Shaker, which recently toured the United States.

For a listing of this year’s Curtain Up performances in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, please visit Dance In Israel’s Events page.  You can read both Helen Kaye’s preview and Ori J. Lenkinski’s preview of the festival in the Jerusalem Post and view the Suzanne Dellal Center’s Hebrew program of Curtain Up.  Finally, I’ll leave you with “Another Op’ning, Another Show,” which I wrote for my own website on November 20, 2007 after attending last year’s Curtain Up Festival.  Make sure to click below and view the rest of the post; there’s another video to whet your appetite!

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(Hillel Kogan’s After the Bolero was a highlight of the 2007 Curtain Up Festival.   Kogan, who is also the rehearsal director for the Batsheva Ensemble, performed in the work along with Ariel Freedman and Iyar Elezra, who recently moved from the ensemble to the main company.)

Right now in Tel Aviv, it’s another opening of another show every night at the Suzanne Dellal Center. Along with the wintry weather (rain and 60-something degree days), November brings the Curtain Up Festival (הרמת מסך), a showcase of fully produced works by young Israeli choreographers. This year there are three separate bills, each featuring 2-3 pieces; each program runs twice at Suzanne Dellal before touring to Jerusalem at the end of the month. The mood has been suitably carnival-like, with a lively 14-piece brass band ushering the full crowd into the theater prior to some of the concerts (though on Friday night during Shabbat, the pre-show entertainment consisted of a much quieter quartet of dancers shifting stones around the plaza).

The entire extravaganza kicked off on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 with Vertigo Dance Company’s Vertigo and the Diamonds (ורטיפו והיהלומים) by Noa Wertheim (נעה ורטהיים). Wertheim and Adi Sha’al (עדי שעל), Vertigo’s directors, had presented work at the Curtain Up festivals when they were beginning their careers, so they came full circle with this performance. With lively music performed onstage by the Diamonds and six remarkably athletic dancers, Wertheim’s work – exploring the dynamics within human relationships – was a crowd pleaser. The audience also enjoyed the onstage dance party at the end.

Over the course of the next three evenings, I saw seven works by the next generation of Israeli choreographers: Ronit Ziv (רונית זיו), Oded Graf and Yossi Berg (עודד גרף ויוסי ברג), Aviv Eveguy (אביב אבגי), Michal Herman (מיכל הרמן), Hillel Kogan (הלל קוגן), Odelya Kuperberg (אודליה קופרברג), and Maya Levy (מאיה לוי). All the works featured casts of three to four dancers, though Kuperberg’s work included an extended cast of pedestrians who entered and exited the stage space throughout the performance.  Like Vertigo and the Diamonds, most of the dances explored human relationships in varying contexts, with the dancers manipulating each other in intricate partnering patterns.

While such a rigorous schedule of dance-watching was a bit tiring, thankfully the works were generally well-constructed and all of the performers were spectacularly committed and engaging.  I found Ziv’s contribution – with a title meaning “Mirror” in Hebrew, but written with reversed lettering – particularly compelling, with a marvelous usage of props including a mirror and teacups.   Meanwhile, the zany humor in Kogan’s After the Bolero (אחרי הבולרו) was a welcome addition to the serious tone of the second Curtain Up program.  As a tall, headless man in a suit attempted to speak – and then, as four highly energetic performers blurted out wild dance phrases punctuated with vernacular dance movements – I laughed and cheered along with the rest of the audience.

*This post was made possible thanks to a Fulbright student grant funded by the U.S.-Israel Educational Foundation and hosted by the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.


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