Gallim Dance at Jacob’s Pillow: Waves of Israeli Influence

Abroad, Events, Video Views

Video: A trailer for Gallim Dance in Andrea Miller’s Blush, which will be performed at Jacob’s Pillow from July 8-12.

What’s a New York-based dance company doing with a name like Gallim, which means “waves” in Hebrew?

Gallim Dance wasn’t founded by an Israeli, but its director and choreographer – Andrea Miller – was once at the center of Israeli contemporary dance as a member of Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Ensemble.  Now Miller is generating buzz of her own with Gallim, which has attracted the attention of presenters, critics, and audiences since its inception in 2006.

It was Miller’s I Can See Myself in Your Pupil which first caught the eye of Ella Baff, the director of the famed Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts.  Baff invited Gallim Dance to perform the work at the festival’s Inside/Out outdoors stage last summer, and she called the concert “a big hit.”  “People really, really loved it,” she told me in a phone interview.  “It was absolutely one of the most popular things that we presented on Inside/Out last season.”

Gallim Dance is poised to be another hit at the Pillow this year.  From July 8-12, Gallim Dance will perform Miller’s latest work, Blush, in the Doris Duke Theatre.

So just what is it about the company and Miller’s choreography which is so captivating?  Baff ticks off a list of impressive factors.  First, she explains, Miller has “originality in terms of conceptual meaning and also in terms of physical vocabulary.”  The young choreographer also uses a wide variety of music, which Baff finds appealing.

Then there’s the matter of the dancers, whom Baff calls “fantastic.”  The dancers’ technical facility and physical prowess isn’t the only part of their power onstage.  Baff elaborates, “They have terrific stage presence, they’re a very tight ensemble, and they are clearly committed to her choreography . . . You can often feel that the artists are very clearly communicating the intent of the choreographer.”

I asked Baff if she saw a connection between Miller’s work and that of Ohad Naharin, the director of Batsheva.  “I do recognize the influence of Ohad,” Baff answered.  “I think the place where I see the most resemblance is in the energy.  There are some pieces that Ohad has made that are very forceful pieces, and I think that in at least most of the work that I’ve seen of Andrea’s so far, she likes strong work.  That doesn’t mean to say that the next piece she’s going to make isn’t going to be soft and quiet.  But I do think that she shares a power, an interest in strong communication, that Ohad has in a lot of his work.”

Yet Miller’s choreography has a flavor and freshness of its own.  Baff is quick to note, “Andrea certainly has her own voice, and it’s a voice that’s going to be developing more and more, no doubt, because she’s still a young choreographer.  And that’s what’s also kind of exciting – you feel that there’s a lot of room to grow, that over time she has a lot to say, and that we’ll be hearing more.”

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