Renana Raz: Choreographing Israeli Culture and Beyond (Podcast)

Interviews (Podcasts), Israeli Choreographers, Video Views

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Renana Raz in We Have Been Called to Go. Photo by Eyal Landesman.

(This podcast was initially produced for Israel Seen in 2008, and the text is amended from my writing on The Winger.  You can subscribe to this podcast using the iTunes software by clicking this link to the podcast feed.  You can also subscribe for free at the iTunes store.)

Renana Raz is a relatively young choreographer, but she has already developed a unique artistic voice and an impressive body of work.  Prior to interviewing her, I viewed a DVD of her repertory and attended a high-energy performance of Kazuaria, which was inspired by and incorporated elements from the Druze debka dance.  After our conversation, I couldn’t wait to see We Have Been Called to Go, which like Kazuaria weaves folk dance – in this case, Israeli folk dance – into a decidedly contemporary concert dance framework.  When I finally saw this work, I stayed up much of the night writing in my blog about it.  For now I’ll keep you in suspense, but I’ll republish this post soon on Dance In Israel.

Before arriving in Israel, I wondered if choreographers were dealing with specifically Israeli subject matter in their work.  The short answer (and there is a long one!) is that the vast majority of Israeli contemporary dance presented over the last season has not featured explicitly Israeli characters, situations, or symbols.  Renana’s We Have Been Called to Go and Kazuaria are some of the only works I have viewed which place the Israeli context center stage.

I’m happy to say that these works captured my attention not only because of this distinction but also because of their fine craft and compelling performance.  Renana’s repertory stretches beyond the Israeli context even when she is expressly exploring it, and we talk about this in our conversation.  But – just as I gained some insight into Israeli society by watching Kazuaria and We Have Been Called to Go – you’ll get to learn a bit about Israeli culture by listening to her talk about these dances.

To see excerpts of Kazuaria and more photos, check out the rest of the post below.

renanailayaRenana Raz in "Motel"

Renana Raz and Ilaya Shalit in Phantoms; Renana Raz in Motel. Photos by Yossi Gamzo Letova & Orion Szydel.


(Video: The joined debka – modern dancers and Druze dancers perform together in the third part of Renana Raz’s Kazuaria.)


(Video: Renana Raz’s company in Kazuaria.)

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*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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