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Celebrating Dr. Ruth Eshel and Ethiopian Shoulder Dancing in Israel

Posted on 24 January 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Beta Dance Troupe. Photo by Irene Fertik.

She is a pioneer of Israel’s fringe dance, presenting avant-garde solos in the late 1970s when performing in large, established repertory companies was the norm.  She is a leading commentator on Israeli concert dance, contributing scholarly articles and books as well as lively criticism in major newspapers and journals.  And in the last fifteen years, Dr. Ruth Eshel has also filled another key role: that of a visionary, arranging the traditional shoulder dance brought by Ethiopian immigrants into entrancing contemporary compositions for the stage.

It is no wonder that Dr. Eshel was captivated by the Ethiopian immigrants’ movement when she set out to document their dance for the Dance Library of Israel.  There is something particularly mesmerizing about the minute isolations of the shoulders that these dancers perform; each articulation itself is clearly cut, but when strung together at high speed, the effect can be likened to that of a hummingbird swiftly beating its wings.  The dancers’ shoulders jump, skip, hop, roll, punch forward and back, and shift side to side.  With this vocabulary, their shoulders talk, sing, cry, and laugh.

Her interest piqued, Dr. Eshel formed a student company called Eskesta (“shoulder dancing” in Amharic) at the University of Haifa in 1995 and directed the troupe for ten years, leading it on tours to great acclaim.  In 2005, she founded Beta Dance Troupe in the Neve Yosef community center in Haifa, again building a distinctive repertory blending traditional shoulder dancing with a contemporary choreographic framework.  This company has also won accolades at home and abroad for its spirited performances.

Now, on January 26, a celebration of Dr. Eshel’s work with both the Eskesta and Beta troupes will be held in Tel Aviv at the Inbal Ethnic Arts Center.  After gathering at 8:00 p.m., a panel will convene at 8:30 to share memories.  Beta Dance Troupe will take the stage at 9:00 for a short performance, followed by a screening of the film Shoulder Dancing, which includes footage of the companies’ rehearsals and performances.  The evening will close with an invitation for everyone to dance.

Poster for the film Shoulder Dancing. Courtesy Ruth Eshel.

For those of you who cannot partake in the live celebration – or are curious about shoulder dancing – below is a clip of Beta Dance Troupe in Dr. Eshel’s aptly named Celebration (2007).

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Curtain Up 2010: Video Preview

Posted on 22 November 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Dana Ruttenberg’s Private I’s premieres in Curtain 3Photo by Gadi Dagon.

In its 21-year history, Curtain Up – Israel’s primary platform for premieres by independent Israeli choreographers – has cycled through a series of artistic directors and experimented with different formats.  To celebrate two decades of the festival’s existence in 2009, six alumni of Curtain Up created new works and selected up-and-coming choreographers to share their evenings.  Now, in a development of last year’s innovative programming, this year’s artistic directors are four artists who have previously shown their work in Curtain Up: Tamar Borer, Ronit Ziv, Renana Raz, and Sahar Azimi.  Each veteran choreographer is overseeing an evening-long program of new works by emerging choreographers, providing a valuable outside eye for the creators on his or her bill.  With this setup, Curtain Up has added a layer of artistic support to the financial assistance that has long been a major benefit of participation in the festival.

Iris Erez’s Homesick is featured in Curtain 1. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

This year’s line-up of choreographers includes some faces familiar to Curtain Up audiences.  Iris Erez was featured last year on Yasmeen Godder’s curtain, Elad Schechter shared the stage in 2009 with Vertigo Dance Company, and Maya Brinner showed her work on Noa Dar’s 2009 program; meanwhile, Michael Getman presented his work in previous seasons of Curtain Up.  Other artists in this year’s festival have shown their recent works in Tmuna Theater’s annual Intimadance and in Shades of Dance, a biennial platform for new choreographers that often serves as a stepping stone to Curtain Up.

Shlomi Frige’s Rashomon premieres in Curtain 4.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Besides the four programs, this year’s Curtain Up includes an array of events that encourage interaction between the artists and the wider public.  Conversations with the artistic directors and choreographers will precede some of the performances, and a series of workshops will be held in conjunction with the Amuta (the Choreographer’s Society).  The culminating event of Curtain Up 2010 is a landmark symposium geared to spark conversation about dance and the body.  Organized by Yael Nativ, this symposium will be held on Friday, December 3 in Jaffa at the Teiva, 19 Sderot Yerushalayim, from 9:00 until 1:30 in the afternoon.  The first session will contain more academic discussions of selected topics, and the second session will feature four dialogues between dance scholars and each of the artistic directors of this year’s Curtain Up festival.  Admission is free to the public.

Rotem Tashach’s Monuments is featured in Curtain 2.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Dance lovers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem can catch the four curtains in late November and early December at bargain prices – tickets are a mere 60 NIS.  The Curtain Up programs will tour later this season to other areas around Israel, including Kfar Blum and potentially Dimona.  And if you’re not in Israel – or if you just want a sneak peek at what you’ll see onstage soon – check out the video preview of each curtain below!

Curtain 1

Directed by Tamar Borer, Curtain 1 features works by Iris Erez and Michael Getman.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 25 and December 3
Jerusalem Theatre: December 2

Video: Iris Erez’s Homesick

Video: Michael Getman’s Father and Feather

Curtain 2

Ronit Ziv served as the artistic director for Curtain 2, which includes works by Tammy and Ronen Itzhaki, Rotem Tashach, and Ofra Idel.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 24 and December 2
Jerusalem Theatre: December 1

Video: Ofra Idel’s Horse Tail

Video: Tammy and Ronen Itzhaki’s Have You Done

Video: Rotem Tashach’s Monuments

Curtain 3

Under the artistic direction of Renana Raz, Curtain 3 features the work of three female choreographers: Gili Navot-Friedman, Maya Brinner, and Dana Ruttenberg.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 27 and December 1
Jerusalem Theatre: November 29

Video: Maya Brinner’s The Show

Video: Dana Ruttenberg’s Private I’s

Video: Gili Navot-Friedman’s Check-in

Curtain 4

Three male choreographers – Ariel Cohen, Elad Schechter, and Shlomi Frige – will show their work in Curtain 4, under the artistic direction of Sahar Azimi.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 26 and December 4
Jerusalem Theatre: November 30

Video: Elad Schechter’s Funis

Video: Ariel Cohen’s The Battle for the 21st Century’s Love

Video: Shlomi Frige’s Rashomon

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Anna Halprin in Israel

Posted on 13 October 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Anna Halprin. Photo by John Kokuska.

The legendary Anna Halprin will be visiting Israel this month as a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow, with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State and the partnership of the United States-Israel Educational Foundation.  Students at both the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and Seminar Hakibbutzim in Tel Aviv will enjoy lectures, demonstrations, and workshops led by Halprin, a groundbreaking choreographer and trailblazer in the field of expressive arts healing.

The general public can also be inspired by Halprin’s pioneering work by viewing Ruedi Gerber’s documentary about the choreographer.  The film, Breath Made Visible, will open the Spirit Film Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and will also be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Video: Trailer for Breath Made Visible

To catch the full film, head to the cinematheques!  The schedule is as follows:

Tel Aviv
Thursday, Oct. 14, 21:00 – Screening of Breath Made Visible, followed by Q&A (opening of the Spirit Film Festival)
Friday, Oct. 15, 16.30: Screening of Breath Made Visible
Saturday, Oct. 16, 21:00 – Screening of Breath Made Visible, followed by Q&A, brief performance and movement activity

Thursday, Oct. 21, 19:00 – Screening of Breath Made Visible, followed by Q&A

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Interview with Yael Flexer: Examining Collaboration, Performance, and Culture

Posted on 05 April 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Yael Flexer.  Photo by Chris Nash.

Born in Israel, Yael Flexer is a well-known fixture in London’s bustling contemporary dance scene.  After directing Bedlam Dance Company for over a decade, she joined forces with her frequent collaborator Nic Sandiland to form Yael Flexer, Nic Sandiland/Dance and Digital Works.  Now the partners are treating dance and art-lovers in Tel Aviv to several views of their unique creative vision.  Flexer is teaching a workshop for dancers at Studio B on Wednesday, April 7 and Saturday, April 10, and her latest dance, The Living Room, will be performed at Tmuna Theater on Friday, April 9.  Meanwhile, Nic Sandiland will discuss some of his works, which cross the borders of artistic disciplines, at the Kalisher Gallery on Wednesday, April 13.

I caught up with Yael Flexer via Skype prior to visit to find out more about her work.  Read on to learn about her partnership with Sandiland, the pair’s outlook on performance, her movement style and choreographic aesthetic, and how the The Living Room is connected both to British and Israeli culture.

* * *

Deborah Friedes Galili: When did you start working in London?

Yael Flexer: Oh, ages ago. Probably in 1992.

Deborah: Was that when you founded Bedlam Dance Company?

Yael: Yes, just about.  I was choreographer in residence at the Place Theatre.  And then, as part of that, I set up the company.

Deborah: I understand that the name of your company is different now.  What is the exact name?

Yael: It was Bedlam [Dance Company] for many years.  I did many projects and touring productions and various things, and then the last five or six years I’ve been working more closely with Nic Sandiland.  We’ve been doing more interactive and digital works, and we’ve had a quite a few commissions for different spaces to make works specifically for them that are digitally based, and so it felt like the right time to change the company.  Also, we kind of reached the age/place where it felt a bit more appropriate to just name the company after us.  So people would associate the work with our names . . .

I think a company as a ‘dance company’ suggests something else, and I think we’re more artists that are making work – and it happens to sometimes be live work, and sometimes digital dance work – so I think it’s just to reflect that.   So the company name is basically our names, Yael Flexer, Nic Sandiland/Dance and Digital Works, which is like an umbrella, or a production company.

Deborah: You said that especially around five or six years ago, you started working more with Nic.  Had you worked with him prior to that as well?  Was he part of Bedlam from the beginning?

Yael: No, he made his own work.  He originally trained as an electronics engineer and got into performance in the ‘80s, and then started making his own work.  His work is less dance-specific; it falls under the dance category, but really it’s a whole mixture of things from live work to installation, some of which has more of a dance element.   Others have been commissioned by poetry societies or a variety of venues.  So it doesn’t necessarily have to be dance.  But I think his outlook is really the idea that in some way the public is partner to the choreography and it’s the encounter with virtual performers, in some cases, or between the public and virtual settings.   In a sense, he choreographs the public and considers the public’s movement within the work.

Deborah: Can you tell me a bit about the work that you’re bringing here to Israel?

Yael: Yes, it’s called The Living Room.  But actually, I should say that right from the start, from setting up the company – although sometimes we make commissions for other organizations or companies where we have a lot of digital [work] or projection in performance – for our own work, we like to make very separate things.  So the live work is very intimate and has very little – well, has no digital element.   And then we’ll make installations for galleries or public spaces that have choreography in them to varying degrees.  But we like to keep them quite separate.   It’s almost like two sides of the coin, working in two different mediums.  I think sometimes when people hear “Dance and Digital Work,” they think of work that’s very high tech, and actually, the live work is very low tech, no tech at all.  And the installation work, even though it is high tech, it doesn’t have that high tech aesthetic.  It’s really about intimacy with the viewer.

Yael Flexer’s The Living Room.  Photo by Chris Nash.

Anyway, the live work is called The Living Room, but it’s not really a living room.  I think it’s more a rehearsal space, and in some ways we’re inviting the audience into our space.  So there’s a kind of informality about the presentation.  It’s a very formal work choreographically, but there’s something about allowing people into our space and having a very light or inviting essence of us all being together in one room.  And there are quite a lot of jokes.  Some of them are between us, and some of the jokes are between us and the audience.   There’s quite a lot of banter that goes on that allows that informality.

I think this is quite different from the work you see in Israel, because you don’t really see that level of humor and that amount of text in work.  Often it’s much more movement driven in Israel.  And although this is also very movement-driven – there’s some very strong and physical movement sections – there’s a way in which the work is a bit more open for the audience to be part of it without any audience interaction, as in no audience participation.  I think that’s kind of been a thread through all of my works, this idea of intimacy between an audience and a performer, and the idea that we witness one another so it’s not just about the audience watching us but it’s also about us in a sense watching them, and there’s a kind of equality of gaze and an equality of power between us.  It’s always breaking the fourth wall, which is a term that is often used . . . it always talks about performance and opens the question of performance.

And we imagine things [in this work].  It’s called The Living Room, so we imagine furniture throughout the show.  We walk around pretending to be bits of furniture.  And there’s a way in which the work talks about the domestic, the very day to day, or the passage of time, and about dancing as well.  In Hebrew you’d say tmunat matzav; it’s a kind of picture of us living through time.  We’re slightly different ages; the youngest is 22 and the oldest is 39 – that’s Karni, the composer.  We’re talking about the differences between us and our different experiences in time, so it feels like it’s more about living than about a specific living room.  It’s living in a room [rather] than necessarily a living room.

Deborah: And are you performing in it as well?

Yael: Yes . . . [laughs]

Deborah: I thought I read that somewhere, so I wanted to check!

Yael: I haven’t performed I guess for five years.  I’m in it, but I’m not much in it.  I’m performing in about two sections, dancing.  Mostly I read; I’m the reading light.  And it’s kind of clear that I’m the choreographer’s voice in there.

Deborah: Is the text original text that you as a cast have developed, or is it taken from somewhere?

Yael: There are two kinds of text.   The text that I read is mine.   And the text that we have between us is very simple text.   It’s kind of simple pleasantries, almost.  It’s quite English – thank you, don’t mention it, you’re welcome – things like that which we developed with a dramaturge, Gary Stevens.  He’s a live artist who makes his own work.   We invited him to come along for this production, and he’s brought with him this idea of the furniture, or the imagined furniture, and the text that follows.  I wouldn’t really call it text.  It’s more deconstructive than that; it’s words, really.

Deborah: I’m curious – how does Nic play a role in this?  Obviously, as you said, you keep these things very separate; in this case, it’s the live work, it’s the dance, as opposed to, say, having the technology layered on.   So is he an active collaborator in this piece as well?

Yael: No, it’s a live work.  I collaborate with him on the installation works.  But we recently did the show [The Living Room] at The Place Theater in London, and we did present an installation called Orbital, which has quite a lot of similarities to the live work.  So in a sense we work concurrently, we work at the same time, and one influences the other.

Orbital is an interactive work where the audience circles a projection that’s on the ground.  The speed with which the viewer walks around affects the projection and causes it to move.  The viewers circle the projection, and obviously that [is the] idea of orbit, or orbiting the projection.  And in the piece [The Living Room] we have quite a lot of circles as a kind of feature of the furniture spinning around the room.  So I think they [the works] start to influence one another, almost unconsciously.

The last production was called Doing, Done and Undone, and it was much more clearly related; when we filmed, the camera was almost like another dancer in the dance, and as people move through the installation, they make the footage go back and they affect the time and the speed in which it’s played back.  There’s a sense in which the viewer is inside the performance.  So there’s some works where that relationship is clearer.

We’ve really done so many installation works alongside this live work; there’s others which are more . . . really about the public. We have shop installations placed in high street or in shopping malls where the viewer affects what they see.

But I think in this case, the installation Orbital and the live work The Living Room are two that work together. You’re not going to see Orbital in Israel, but Nic is going to be giving a talk about his work at Kalisher Gallery, part of Seminar Hakibbutzim School, and he’ll talk more about various installations and the theoretical underpinnings of that.

Deborah: Can you talk a little bit about your movement style and your movement aesthetic for this work?

Yael: Generally, my aesthetic is quite functional.  It’s release-based – that’s the technique, anyway.  But it’s very punchy, it’s very fast – but it’s very functional.  There’s a sense in which dance is not decoration. It’s somehow about form and function.  So you’ll see lots of angles and lots of work with joints, breaking through the joints, collapsing towards the floor; there’s quite a lot of material that happens on the floor.

Choreographically, there’s always a kind of mathematical rule or physical rule that leads each particular dance.  Although it is dancing, there is a kind of inert rule that we follow, whether it’s about dancers being in contact and that’s the idea of that particular section; whether it’s about circling and orbiting being an idea for a section; whether it’s about triggering movement, one dancer triggering movement in others, or chasing one another.  We always have quite a clear logic for us as we make the choreography, so that as you view it, you can maybe not work out the logistics or the logic of it but have a sense of coherency about it.  But certainly the movement style is very physical, but very functional . . .

Yael Flexer’s The Living Room.  Photo by Chris Nash.

Often, dance is described as kind of pure dance or dance theater, and I would say the work aligns more with pure dance in that it’s really concerned with the mathematics of space and time rather than trying to convey a kind of drama or relationships in a dramatic sense.  We’re always ourselves when we’re onstage.  We’re never transformed or anything like that. So there’s no sense of transcendence or big drama.  It’s very, very much in the here and now and the how we meet each other and simply being ourselves as people, as dancers.  And I think the work – and certainly the text in the work – talks about that to some degree.
I think what might be interesting for an Israeli reader/viewer is that – because I’m in it and I’m the choreographer voice in it – The Living Room has quite a lot of the notion of the “unhomed.”  I don’t know quite how to translate it to Hebrew, but in some way it’s a word that could only be made by an Israeli not living in Israel in that it talks about the kind of longing but also the loss of a home, in that sense of where I grew up is not where Israel is now.  I think we mention this question of the “unhomed” or the not having a home a lot, and therefore we’re imagining furniture, because we ultimately don’t have a home.   And there are some references [in The Living Room] that are also very English and talk about the dancers and their background, and I think that might be an interesting thing to consider, that kind of reading of the work.  So it’s talking about dancing through time but also the idea of difference, or the idea of a kind of mixed cast of different places and different backgrounds and the sort of longing for a home or to be “homed”.

Deborah: That’s really interesting for me to hear.   I’m from the U.S.; I came to Israel because I was intrigued by Israeli dance and I stayed here.  Some of the things you talk about, I can connect to on a reverse level – you know, what I feel in terms of my relationship to the U.S., although I haven’t been gone as long.  Also, a lot of people certainly ask me – and especially when I was first here and looking at work by Israeli choreographers, I wondered – if there was something that they were saying or that they were dealing with that was coming somehow specifically from their relationship to their home, just in the same way that you could look at anybody who’s American or British or whatnot and see if there’s something culturally specific that they’re considering.  So it’s interesting for me to hear that you do see, somehow, a connection specifically to these issues.

Yael: This particular work definitely refers a lot to cultural baggage, or what is culture and how is it a part of you, or what is you and what isn’t you.  I think it has that perspective of being nearly 40 and having children and being away from Israel and those kinds of questions.  I mean, not everyone would read it in that way, at all, but I think if you want to read it in that way, there are those links.  I’m really interested in performing in Israel, because it would be great to see how an Israeli audience reads it.   Also in a sense, whenever you make work as an Israeli outside of Israel, you are the voice of Israel – whether you like it or not – if you reference Israel in any way. So there are things there that are interesting for an Israeli audience to view, thinking, “Okay, this is what an English audience is seeing about Israel,” or how we are represented through me, I suppose, and through Karni.   So there’s a kind of element of explanation that maybe you would never use if you were only making it for a predominantly Israeli audience.  I mean, I don’t know if it’s the case; I don’t think it’s that much explanation, but I think there are some words that only an Israeli audience would get and in other places it’s just Hebrew; they (an English audience) have no idea what we say.

Deborah: And based on what I saw online, did this just premiere a few weeks ago?

Yael: Yes, we just premiered two weeks ago.

Deborah: So this will be the first performance of it outside of the U.K.

Yael: Yes.

Deborah: Have you brought any of your work to Israel before?

Yael: I have but a really long time ago.  I’ve been doing lots of work in Israel but mostly teaching.  This is the first time we got funding from the British Council to bring the work over, just because it’s a big company.

Deborah: It’s six dancers?

Yael: It’s five dancers, me, and the cellist as well, Karni.

Deborah: Can you talk a little bit about the music?

Yael: Well, there are three composers.  Really there are two, and there’s one track that we used from a different composer (Dougie Evans) that I’ve worked with.   It’s Nye Parry and Karni Postel.   I’ve worked with Karni on two other productions in the past, so it’s an ongoing collaboration, and I’ve worked with Nye for ten years.  And I kind of forced them to get together!  And it’s been great, actually.

The sound score is different from other scores in that it’s more filmic in a way, and having Karni play live just brings a kind of edge to it, and there’s an element of improvisation at play – not entirely, but she has a little more freedom to respond to us with the cello.  We’re really looking at what we called the beautiful cello – this idea of a quite pleasing or harmonic sound and the more distorted, heavy, uncomfortable sound, and the work plays with those two extremes.  So sometimes it’s very comfortable, and sometimes it’s very uncomfortable.  And similarly, sometimes we’re very comfortable and kind of cozy with the audience, and other times we’re a little more edgy or in some senses less familiar with them and with each other, so there’s a sense of maybe more destruction or discomfort or disharmony . . . so that sense of being “unhomed” comes through in the music as well . . .

What else can I tell you?  We’re doing lots of workshops when we’re in Israel.  And this is what we do quite a lot; education work, mostly at the university level but sometimes with youth as well, and sometimes with adults.  I think there’s an element of wanting to know our audience to some degree and that familiarity, so it kind of runs through.   It’s a way of breaking the ice as well, so we’ll have some participants who have done our workshops coming to the show, and I think that’s always nice.

Yael Flexer’s The Living Room.  Photo by Chris Nash.

Deborah: Is there anything else that you think is particularly important to say about the work or your company?

Yael: It’s good to mention that the dancers are a very equal part in the making of the work. It’s a very adult company, I mean, although we range from 22 to 38 or so. The way I approach it is very democratic; it’s quite a social and democratic way of conceiving and making the work. So even though I direct it and make certain decisions, obviously, it’s not hierarchical in any way. That’s really important for me. You know, we always have a really good laugh making the work, and I think you can see that when you see the work. That’s a device to get what I want out of the dancers and the kind of work I want to make. In a sense, the work represents a kind of process, and I think that might be different from other choreographers’ process. So the social part of being together and making work is just as much a part of the work, or becomes part of the work.

More Details

Yael Flexer, Nic Sandiland/Dance and Digital Works presents Flexer’s The Living Room at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 9.  Tickets (NIS 65) are available at (03) 561-1211.  Nic Sandiland talks about his work at the Kalisher Gallery on Tuesday, April 13; for more details, call (03) 516-5535.

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Israeli to Compete in Youth America Grand Prix Finals

Posted on 19 March 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Gaya Bommer.  Photo by Yossi Zveker.

Israeli contemporary dance has gained international renown over the last two decades, but the country’s small ballet scene is barely known abroad. Yet next week, one of the world’s most prestigious youth ballet competitions, the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), will include an Israeli: the 11-year-old Gaya Bommer.

Gaya Bommer started dancing as a young child at her mother’s studio, the Nadine Bommer Dance Academy, and became more serious about her training at the age of 7. Now, under the tutelage of Nadine and ballet teachers Jay Augen and Roz Sobol, Gaya is bound for the YAGP in New York City. There she will perform one of Swanhilda’s variations from Coppélia as well as a contemporary solo choreographed by her mother in the hopes of placing in the top twelve at the Pre-Competitive level.

Gaya’s trajectory to this elite competition was a quick one. Though Gaya always displayed an aptitude for dance, it was not until this summer that her singular talent became evident. While accompanying Nadine, who was teaching in Europe, Gaya entered her first international competition and won first place. She was subsequently invited to the semifinals of the YAGP in Italy.

Even at this stage, the presence of an Israeli was of note.  Nadine recalls, “When we were in the semifinals, they even talked about it that Israel was in this competition for the first time. It was also a surprise for them . . . They come from each country of the world with a big group, because they don’t bring only dancers at the Pre-Competitive age; they also bring the other ages. And when they called [the group from] Israel to come and present ourselves, only Gaya came!”

In Italy, Gaya drew attention not just for her nationality but for her fine performance.  Impressed, the judges advanced her to the finals in New York, which begin on March 21. There she will compete against approximately one hundred other dancers in her age group.

Nadine, who herself has won awards for her choreography including the crowd favorite prize at the 2009 No Ballet Competition in Germany, hopes that Gaya will not only shine in her classical variation but stand out from the crowd in her contemporary solo, Wild Horses. “I think she’s very unique in her contemporary piece of mine . . . I made something that I think will be interesting for [people at YAGP] to see, because what we do in Israel is really different in contemporary dance,” Nadine reflects.

Regardless of the outcome, simply to participate in the YAGP finals is a major achievement for Gaya. “For us, for Israel to have a ballerina or a dancer in this competition . . . it’s a very big, big, big, huge thing!” Nadine marvels. “I’m happy she’s going to have this experience.”

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