Dance in the Desert: Shavuot at Adama

Israeli Companies, Israeli Festivals, Photo Journals

Photo: At Adama’s Shavuot festival in 2008, dancers gathered around for an aerial dance workshop.

While some dancers and movers will gather at Vertigo Dance Company’s Eco-Art Village for the Hagiga festival during Shavuot, others will journey into the Negev desert for a different event: Adama’s Hagiga Levana (White Festival or White Celebration).

Adama is a unique dance center run by choreographers Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror (more on them and the center soon, I promise!).  Last year, their Shavuot festival was called Dance in the Desert and was a collaboration with the Amuta or Choreographers Society.  I attended the festival and made a photo journal called “Dance in the Desert” for The Winger; you can check it out below.

This year’s Hagiga Levana will be a smaller and more intimate festival than Dance in the Desert, but it should be no less warm and celebratory.  Attendees can participate in workshops as well as find time for themselves to reflect in the peace of the desert.  They’ll also enjoy a performance of the Adama company’s latest work.  You can visit Adama’s website for more information on this Shavuot event, which will run from May 28-30.

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Dance in the Desert (2008)

Here’s my view of Machol Bamidbar 2008, a collaboration between Adama and the Amuta:

After catching one of two buses chartered from Tel Aviv at 7 a.m. on Friday morning, we were met with this sign welcoming us to the Machol Bamidbar festival.

I think I have a sense of what heaven (or at least dance heaven) looks like.

From Friday through Sunday, I joined a few hundred wonderful people for Machol Bamidbar (Dance in the Desert) at Adama’s incredible space in Mizpe Ramon.  Coordinated by the Amuta (Choreographers Society), the festival brought together many of Israel’s independent choreographers who work outside of the long-established troupes like Batsheva and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.  Over 3 days, these choreographers presented 17 concerts featuring over 40 dances and improvisational works.  The festival was also filled with more than 50 classes ranging from contemporary technique, improvisation, and repertory to Afro-Cuban dance, Gaga, flamenco, aerial dance, acrobalance, tai chi, yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, juggling, and special children’s classes.  After the last performance of each evening, open dance jams stretched late into the night.   It was definitely a weekend to remember!

Here’s a taste of what the festival looked like:

To camping!  Signs were everywhere at Adama, directing attendees to studios, sleeping spaces, and makeshift cafes.

While some people came only for a day or returned to their homes each night, many people stayed at Adama for the entire festival. Some people brought their own tents and set up outside, while others slept in sleeping bags on mattresses spread out inside Adama’s hangar.  It felt like an instant village!

Relaxing from the desert heat and sun.  In between workshops and performances, we lounged here and ate yummy vegetarian fare.  People caught up with old friends and made new ones.

Along with Adama’s usual arty decor, a dance photography exhibit lined the building’s hallways.

Dancers in one of many workshops.  I myself took several classes: Liat Dror’s morning class; repertory classes with choreographers Niv Sheinfeld and Sahar Azimi; and a rep class with material by Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal, taught by dancer extraordinaire Ran Ben-Dror.  Since there were 7 classes in each workshop slot, it was often hard to choose which one to attend – they all looked great!

Aerial dance students in action!

A crowd starts to gather before one of many performances.   Besides the main stage, a more intimate space in the hangar next door hosted additional performances (again making it hard to choose . . .), and there were also showings of video dance.   Before each concert, a pair of acrobats raced through the hangar, playfully announcing what would be happening in each concert space.

Dancing with a visiting troupe of drummers and dancers from Africa on Saturday night.  One of the dancers was celebrating a birthday, and the company and crowd surprised her with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” after their first dance.  Besides this group from Ghana, a company of dancers from Japan (KAYM) was invited by Israeli choreographer Nimrod Freed, and they performed on Sunday.

It does seem like a taste of heaven, doesn’t it?

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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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