Snapshots from International Exposure 2008

Israeli Festivals, My Reflections


Hydra by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak closed International Exposure.  Photo by Seto Hidemi.

Most visitors to this year’s International Exposure were festival directors, arts presenters, diplomats, or critics.   I, however, came as a researcher.   With this festival – as with my other research activities – I sought to discover, to interpret, to understand.  I searched for old connections and new pathways.

Featuring over 40 works, International Exposure was exactly the right place to look for the threads which tie together this country’s concert dance scene.  The festival is a like a yearbook for Israeli dance.  The offerings by each choreographer serve as the album’s individual portraits.   Mixed bills drawn from some of the country’s other festivals (Curtain Up; Machol Acher/Other Dance Project) hint at the structure of the dance community, just as club pictures reveal a school’s cliques and groups.  And with the 20+ concerts clustered together in a mere six days, it’s possible to see the trends which characterized much this year’s artistic output. (( It should be noted, though, that some choreographers were missing from this year’s International Exposure.  Some well-established artists including Nimrod Freed, Anat Danieli, and Adama’s Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror did not present work at the festival.  Meanwhile, younger independent choreographers are far greater in number than those represented onstage. ))

Indeed, International Exposure brought the dance scene into focus for me, clarifying and sharpening some observations I had started to form since my research began in 2007.  Israel is a small country, the size where everyone in the dance community knows each other, and this shows – not only during the mingling at receptions.  For instance, it’s worth noting just how many collaborations there are within the dance scene.  Several pairs presented work: Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak, Yossi Berg & Oded Graf, Ya’ara Dolev & Amit Goldenberg, Renana Raz & Ofer Amram, and Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor (with the participation of choreographer Ronit Ziv, who performed).  (( Ronit Ziv wasn’t the only choreographer who performed in another artist’s work.  Ya’ara Dolev danced in Michael Getman’s duet, while Getman in turn appeared in the work Dolev co-choreographed.  Lazaro Godoy popped up in dances by Sahar Azimi, Maya Levi, and Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak.  Although neither Nadar Rosano nor Iris Erez showed work this year, both choreographers danced in the festival (Rosano in Ronit Ziv’s choreography and Erez in Arkadi Zaides’s offering). ))

The fact that most choreographers are clustered in Tel Aviv probably facilitates this partnership, and it may also foster the cross-pollination of ideas in the work itself.  At International Exposure, pure, abstract dance was trumped by theatricality and props (ranging from squeezy toys to green slime, with numerous pairs of shoes and other items in between).  There was very little movement for movement’s sake, something I have noticed throughout my time here.

As for the movement itself, many of the dances were influenced by release technique.  Assertive fast-paced partnering also dominated, especially in the trios and quartets which filled the four Curtain Up programs.  The prevalence of contact improvisation in Israel also seems to have made its mark on how partnering is built.

Yet even as many of the works bore a similar aesthetic imprint, there were glimpses of what lies beyond the borders of contemporary dance in Israel.  Elina Pechersky put belly dance on the concert stage, Tamar Borer mined the Japanese butoh tradition, and the Israel Ballet brought another flavor to the festival.

International Exposure may be over, but my research continues!  I’m looking forward to talking with many of the choreographers I met at the festival in the months to come – and as my understanding of Israel’s concert dance scene develops, I’ll share more snapshots with you.

monger1Bloody Disco
Singular Sensation by Yasmeen GodderPost-Martha by Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor
White Noise by Noa WertheimTetris by Noa Dar

Snapshots from International Exposure 2008:

Top row: Barak Marshall’s Monger (photo by Gadi Dagon); Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s Bloody Disco (photo by Gadi Dagon)
Middle row: Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation (photo by Tamar Lamm); Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor’s Post-Martha (photo by Ascaf)
Bottom row: Noa Wertheim’s White Noise (photo by Gadi Dagon); Noa Dar’s Tetris (photo by Tamar Lamm)

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