Behind the Scenes at Gvanim: Shades of Dance Festival

Events, Israeli Choreographers, Israeli Festivals, Photo Journals

Michael Miler's "Speed of Light"

Michael Miler’s The Speed of Light will be performed in program 1 of Shades of Dance.  Photograph by Eyal Landesman.

Last Saturday night was chilly and wet, but despite the discouraging weather conditions, I bundled up and trekked down to the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Choreographer Micheal Miler of Haifa’s Sigma Ensemble had invited me to a rehearsal for the Shades of Dance festival (called Gvanim in Hebrew).  Shades of Dance is mounted biennially, and since last year was an off year, I had effectively been waiting to attend the festival for over a year and a half.  A little rain wasn’t about to stop me from this special sneak peak.

Since its inception in 1984, Shades of Dance has showcased artists who are relatively fresh to the field of choreography.  It has helped launch the careers of some of Israel’s best-known choreographers including Yasmeen Godder, Inbal Pinto, Emanuel Gat, Ronit Ziv, Barak Marshall,  Renana Raz, Shlomi Bitton, Anat Danieli, Itzhik Galili, Sally-Anne Friedland, Yossi Yungman, Tamar Borer, Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal of Adama, Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al of Vertigo Dance Company, and Yoram Karmi of Fresco Dance Group.

Perhaps this is why my anticipation of this festival feels different: I can’t help but wonder what new choreographic voices will be revealed this year.  A mind-boggling 80 dances were submitted to the festival’s selection committee, composed of artistic director Hanoch Ben Dror with Ya’ara Dolev, Sally-Anne Friedland, Renana Raz, and Niv Sheinfeld.   I’m looking forward to seeing what sets the 10 chosen works apart from their competition when the 15th Shades of Dance festival opens this week.

"We are going back" by Shaked DaganAnat Va'adiya

Left to right: Shaked Dagan’s We are going back is in program 3; Anat Va’adiya’s Ashetish is in program 1Photographs by Eyal Landesman.

If the rehearsal I saw was any indication, this year’s festival has a batch of promising choreographers with very diverse aesthetics.  Michael Miler’s The Speed of Light is one of the most abstract works I have seen since moving to Israel, and it is thoroughly absorbing.  Clad in dark skinny jeans and colorful athletic jackets, Miler and seven other talented dancers maneuver skillfully through a sophisticated movement vocabulary.  As they swiftly skate across the floor and slide to the ground, they appear to be constantly gauging the changing formations of their fellow performers.

The relationship between dancers Adam Ben Zvi and Idan Porges in Shaked Dagan’s We are going back is equally engaging.  At times the well-matched men create a stop-frame effect with their cleverly-timed partnering; at other times they move hypnotically in slow motion.

The other two pieces I saw at Saturday’s rehearsal were worlds apart from each other in their tone. While choreographer/dancer Anat Va’adiya established an unsettling mood for her solo, Dafi Altebab used text and motions from a flight safety presentation to humorous effect in her trio’s quirky scenario.

Dafi Altebab

Dafi Altebab’s new work is in program 3.  Photo by Eyal Landesman.

While I wish I could have stayed for the remainder of the rehearsal, I left early to attend another performance at the Home Port festival.  I suppose that after waiting a year and half to attend Shades of Dance, another few days is bearable!  The festival opens on Wednesday, March 18 with with excerpts of old and recent works by former Shades of Dance participants Nir Ben Gal & Liat Dror, Noa Wertheim & Adi Sha’al, Ronit Ziv, and Barak Marshall.  Then three programs shown back-to-back on Thursday night and Friday afternoon will present the new works from this year’s harvest.

Here are a few more sneak peaks of what will be onstage in the three programs of Shades of Dance 2009:

Anat Meirav

Anat Meirav’s is in program 2Photographs by Eyal Landesman.

"Blind Spot" by Galia Hazor"This is the Time" by Tami and Ronen Yitzhaki

From left: Galit Hazor’s Blind Spot is in program 3; Tami and Ron Yitzhaki’s work is in program 2.  Photograph by Eyal Landesman.

Shir Medutzky

Shir Medvetsky’s solo is in program 3.  Photograph by Eyal Landesman.

Ron Amit and Mor Shani's "Lu Carmela"Or Marin's "vanishing point"

From left: Ron Amit and Mor Shani’s Lu Carmela; Or Marin’s vanishing point. Photographs by Eyal Landesman.

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