Tel Aviv’s 100th + Suzanne Dellal’s 20th = The Big Stage

Dance Histories, Events, Israeli Companies, Israeli Festivals

The Big Stage at Suzanne Dellal

Photo of the Big Stage by Ariel Besor.

Something big is about to happen.  It’s the biggest cultural draw in town from May 14 until June 6th.  And fittingly, it’s titled Habama Hagdola: The Big Stage.

This isn’t the first time that the plaza of the Suzanne Dellal Center has been turned into a massive, open air theater.  The pictures in this post show a previous transformation from a few years ago.  But this time around, the construction of the Big Stage is marking something truly huge: the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv and the 20th anniversary of the Suzanne Dellal Center, Israel’s premiere center for dance.

To celebrate both of these occasions, the Big Stage (sometimes translated as the Great Stage) will present some of Israel’s top dance companies and musical groups as well as world-renowned troupes from abroad.  The opening night combines both art forms in a special performance by Balkan Beat Box, with excerpts from Barak Marshall’s “Monger” that are set to music by the popular Israeli band.  As part of the festivities, Yair Vardi, Suzanne Dellal’s director, will receive an award from the Foreign Ministry for his contribution to the field of Israeli dance.

The Big Stage at Suzanne Dellal (Audience View)

Photo of the Big Stage by Ariel Besor.

In a land whose recorded history stretches back thousands of years, it’s a bit mind-boggling to realize that Tel Aviv is a mere century old.  Consider for a moment the ages of some other major cultural centers in the West: Paris.  Rome.  London.  New York City.  Tel Aviv is but an infant next to these metropolises, but despite its relative youth, the city has developed a world renowned arts scene.

There was certainly concert dance in Tel Aviv prior to the founding of the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Even before the country of Israel was formed, the city absorbed immigrants who had trained in the German expressionist style and laid the foundation for Israel’s modern dance scene.   In 1964, the Batsheva Dance Company opened in town, and the Bat-Dor Dance Company debuted a few years later.  Over the next two decades, Israeli choreographers started to strike out on their own, and they centered their activity in Tel Aviv.

But what really put Tel Aviv on the international map of dance was the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Finally, the city – and indeed, the country – had a complex of world-class theaters and studios devoted almost entirely to dance.  The center became a home for the quickly expanding field of contemporary dance, and its multiple stages and festivals spurred more and more choreographers to create work.  It’s hard to imagine that Israeli contemporary dance would have grown so much and risen to such prominence over the last twenty years without the support of the Suzanne Dellal Center.

With its key place in the city’s cultural arena – and its role in revitalizing Neve Tzedek, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside of Jaffa – it seems fitting that Suzanne Dellal will play a central part in Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary celebrations.  With the Big Stage up and ready to go, let the party start!

The Big Stage Schedule

  • May 14, 9 p.m. – Balkan Beat Box and excerpts from Barak Marshall’s Monger (Music and Dance)
  • May 16, 9 p.m. – Vertigo Dance Company and Tararam (Dance)
  • May 18, 9 p.m. – Ido Tadmor and Friends, with Rina Schenfeld and Talia Paz (Dance)
  • May 19, 9 p.m. – Chava Alberstein (Music)
  • May 21, 9 p.m. – Batsheva Dance Company (Dance)
  • May 22, 9 p.m. – Mosh Ben Ari (Music)
  • May 23, 9 p.m. – Rita with special guest Shlomi Shaban (Music)
  • May 26-May 27, 9 p.m. – Compania Nacional de Danza (from Spain) (Dance)
  • May 28, 4:30 p.m. – Orna Porat Children and Youth Theater (Theater)
  • June 1-2, 9 p.m. – Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal (from Canada) (Dance)
  • June 3, 8:30 p.m. – Idan Raichel Project (Music)
  • June 4, 8:30 p.m. – Ehud Banai (Music)
  • June 5, 4:30 – The Apples (Music)
  • June 6, 9 p.m. – Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (Dance)

For more details in English on the dance performances, please check the Events page of Dance In Israel.  Tickets can be bought at Suzanne Dellal’s box office, 03-5105656.

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