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Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance, edited by Judith Brin Ingber

Posted on 14 December 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Image courtesy of Judith Brin Ingber.

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance ever since writer and editor Judith Brin Ingber first sent me a table of contents.  When I finally met her in person last year at the Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Dance conference at The Ohio State University, she whetted my appetite for the anthology even more with her slide show of images from the book.  And now, having carefully read through my copy of this sizable volume, published this past summer by Wayne State University Press, I can vouch that this book was well worth the wait.  For those of us who study the field – and for those who wish to know more about the subject – Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance is an invaluable resource.

Besides a few of Brin Ingber’s own writings, this anthology includes an extraordinarily diverse array of writers: Sara Levi-Tanai, Felix Fibich with Judith Brin Ingber, Janice Ross, Nina S. Spiegel, Josh Perelman, Ayalah Goren-Kadman, Dawn Lille, Shalom Staub, Giora Manor, Zvi Friedhaber, Barbara Sparti, Yehuda Hyman, Jill Gellerman, Dina Roginsky, Elke Kaschl, Naomi M. Jackson, and Gaby Aldor.  Some of these authors are themselves dancers and choreographers who offer their first-person insights, while others approach their topics from a scholarly point of view.  This breadth of voices is one of the book’s greatest strengths, engaging the reader anew with the start of each article.

Moreover, with writings by such a substantial number of authors who boast different areas of expertise, Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance provides perspectives on a remarkably wide range of subject matter.  Articles on Jewish dancing masters in Renaissance Italy, Israeli folk dance as practiced in Israel and New York City, Hasidic dance, Yemenite dance, Kurdish dance, Ethiopian dance, ballet, contemporary dance, and more all find their place in this book.  Spanning history and geography, and encompassing dance performed both onstage and off, the anthology portrays a broad yet nuanced vision of how Jews have danced and continue to dance.

In keeping with the title of the book, Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance features not only texts but also a wealth of images.  182 illustrations illuminate the authors’ points.  You can view some of the images and hear Brin Ingber’s explanations in the video produced by the Jewish Daily Forward below.

Images of Jewish & Israeli Dance from Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

Since the publication of Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance, Brin Ingber has embarked on a series of book signings and lectures, and her travels have now brought her to Israel.  On Sunday, December 18, she will speak at the Dance Library of Israel at 8:00 p.m.  Entrance is free, but due to limited seating, reservations should be made by e-mailing [email protected]

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International Exposure 2011: The Year in Israeli Dance

Posted on 28 November 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Renana Raz’s The Diplomats.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the year that has passed – and for those of us who follow Israeli contemporary dance, International Exposure offers the perfect opportunity for reflecting on the works created here in the last twelve months.  From November 30-December 4, International Exposure 2011 will present much of the past year’s bounty to an audience of presenters and journalists from around the globe.  Most of the festival focuses on Israeli contemporary dance, but a few other genres including flamenco and belly dance will also be represented.

While the festival will include a number of studio showings just for guests of International Exposure, a number of programs have tickets available for purchase through the Suzanne Dellal Centre’s box office (03-5105656).  Here’s a video preview of the festival, with an emphasis on the shows that are open to the public.

Wednesday, November 30

After finishing registration, guests of International Exposure will be treated to a performance by Orly Portal and the Andalusian Orchestra in Studio Varda. At 8:00 p.m. in the Suzanne Dellal Centre’s main theater, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak will offer their brand new work, Bombyx Mori. The first night will finish in Yerushalmi Hall with Maria Kong Dancers Company in a program called Kong’s Night, featuring works by Leo Lerus, Anderson Braz, and Artour Astman.

Video: Maria Kong, trailer for Kong’s Night

Thursday, December 1

The second day of International Exposure starts with a performance of Yoram Karmi’s Jungle Book by Fresco Dance Group at the Holon Theater, followed by the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s performance of Rami Be’er’s Ben Kodesh Le’Hol at Suzanne Dellal at noon.

Video: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company

Yoni Soutchy’s Ben, one of two winners in the biennial Shades of Dance competition, will be performed along with Anat Grigorio’s Eternal Mission in the more intimate Yerushalmi Hall at 2:00 p.m.

Video: Yoni Soutchy’s Ben

Some guests will head to Tamar Borer’s studio for a showing of her work, YAMUNA.

Video: Tamar Borer’s YAMUNA

Everyone will reconvene at 6:00 p.m. in the main theater at Suzanne Dellal for Roy Assaf’s 6 Years Later and Noa Zuk’s Speaker, two dances from this year’s Curtain Up.

Video: Roy Assaf’s 6 Years Later . . .

Video: Noa Zuk’s Speaker

A mixed bill in the main theater at 9:00 p.m. will include Dafi Altabeb’s High Expectations, Dana Ruttenberg’s Poly, and Rachel Erdos’s Why We Tell.

Video: Dafi Altabeb’s High Expectations

Sahar Azimi and Tamara Erde’s Cell in a Human Scale will be presented in Studio Varda at 10:30 p.m.

Video: Sahar Azimi and Tamara Erde’s Cell in a Human Scale

Friday, December 2

The third day of the festival begins at 10:00 a.m. at Suzanne Dellal with Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim‘s Null.

Video: Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim’s Null

Yasmeen Godder will present Storm End Come at the Nahmani Theater at 1:00 p.m.

Yasmeen Godder’s Storm End Come.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Back at Suzanne Dellal at 4:30 p.m., Ido Tadmor offers Three Rooms.  And after a Shabbat reception, Suzanne Dellal will show its latest production: a mixed bill featuring Renana Raz‘s The Diplomats and Barak Marshall‘s Wonderland.

Video: Renana Raz’s The Diplomats

Video: Barak Marshall’s Wonderland

Saturday, December 3

Saturday kicks off at 10:00 a.m. in Suzanne Dellal with COMPAS Dance Company, a flamenco troupe, in Pavo Real.

Video: COMPAS in Pavo Real

At noon in the Inbal Theater, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor present Ship of Fools, which premiered in this past year’s Israel Festival.

Video: Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor’s Ship of Fools

Across the courtyard in Yerushalmi Hall, Ronit Ziv offers With Subtitles at 2:00 p.m.

Video: Ronit Ziv’s With Subtitles

At 3:30 p.m., the main theater will feature a mixed bill with Idan Cohen’s Mad Siren, Lee Meir’s Translation Included (one of the winners of the Shades of Dance competition), and the Be’ersheva-based Kamea Dance Company in Uri Ivgi’s Four Legs.

Video: Idan Cohen’s Mad Siren

Video: Lee Meir’s Translation Included

Over in the Inbal Theater at 18:00, Tami Dance Company will perform La by Nimrod Freed with Israel Brait.  This work premiered during the Israel Festival in Jerusalem.

Video: Nimrod Freed’s Tami Dance Company in La

Idan Sharabi’s Rak Tamid will be performed in Studio Varda at 8:00 p.m.

Video: Idan Sharabi’s Rak Tamid

Saturday’s programming will end with the Jerusalem-based Kolben Dance Company in Amir Kolben’s Babel in the main theater at 10:00 p.m.

Video: Amir Kolben’s Babel

Sunday, December 4

After a tour to Jerusalem, International Exposure 2011 will come to a close in Suzanne Dellal’s main theater with a 9:00 p.m. performance of Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21, which premiered in the Israel Festival.

Video: Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh 21

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Curtain Up 2011: A Festival of Dance Premieres

Posted on 30 October 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

In Her Own Words by Rachel Erdos.  Photo by Yaniv Cohen.

Founded in 1989, Curtain Up (Haramat Masach in Hebrew) has become a centerpiece of Israel’s contemporary dance calendar.  In many ways, the core of this yearly platform has remained the same over the decades: up-and-coming choreographers who operate outside of the country’s major companies receive financial and artistic support to present new works on a series of mixed bills in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Yet in its most recent editions, Curtain Up has added another layer: cultivating artistic directors who are themselves choreographers.  Last year, four alumni of the festival – Tamar Borer, Sahar Azimi, Ronit Ziv, and Renana Raz – were each charged with curating an evening.  This year, Borer, Azimi, and Ziv are returning as artistic directors, applying the lessons they learned in 2010 to Curtain Up 2011, which runs from November 3-12.

Curtain Up’s three programs will each be performed twice at the Suzanne Dellal Centre and once at the Jerusalem Theatre.  In cooperation with the Choreographers Association and Tarbut L’Yisrael, the works created for Curtain Up will also be performed in Israel’s northern and southern regions, enabling these younger choreographers to gain further exposure.

So just what is on the bill for Curtain Up this year?  Here is a video preview of the three programs:

Curtain 1

Artistic Director: Tamar Borer
Choreographers: Iris Erez, Maya Brinner, Maya Weinberg
Performances at the Suzanne Dellal Centre: November 3 and 12 at 21:00
Performances at the Jerusalem Theatre: November 10 at 20:30

Video: Shuttered by Iris Erez

Video: Forest by Maya Brinner

Video: Some Fish (swim up the river to die) by Maya Weinberg

Curtain 2

Artistic Director: Sahar Azimi
Choreographers: Doron Raz, Roy Assaf, Gili Navot, Noa Zuk
Performances at the Suzanne Dellal Centre: November 4 at 22:00 and November 10 at 21:00
Performances at the Jerusalem Theatre: November 8 at 20:30

Video: Valentia by Doron Raz

Video: 6 Years Later by Roy Assaf

Video: Subject to Change by Gili Navot

Video: Speaker by Noa Zuk

Curtain 3

Artistic Director: Ronit Ziv
Choreographers: Hillel Kogan, Rachel Erdos, Osnat Kelner
Performances at the Suzanne Dellal Centre: November 5 at 21:00 and November 11 at 22:00
Performances at the Jerusalem Theatre: November 9 at 20:30

Video: Obscene Gesture by Hillel Kogan

Video: In Her Own Words by Rachel Erdos

Video: The sad little, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man by Osnat Kelner

More Information

Tickets for Curtain Up performances are 60 NIS.  For tickets to Curtain Up at Suzanne Dellal, call 03-5105656.  For tickets to Curtain Up at the Jerusalem Theatre, call 02-5605755.

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Shades of Dance 2011 Video Preview

Posted on 04 September 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Lilach Livne’s Monday Larissa.  Photo by Lilach Livne.

 After months of work, sixteen up-and-coming choreographers are ready to unveil their creations in the 2011 Shades of Dance competition at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv.  Whether you’re wondering which programs to attend or live afar and wish you could see the latest work coming out of Israel, here’s a video preview that will give you a glimpse of this year’s lineup.

Tickets for Shades of Dance performances are available at 03-5105656 or online at the Suzanne Dellal Centre’s website.

Program Alef

September 7 at 20:00
September 9 at 20:00

Video: Gil C. Harush’s TAKANA

Video: Smadar Goshen’s Urbania

Video: Sharon Vaisvaser’s 42 Inch

Program Bet

September 8 at 20:00
September 10 at 22:30

Video: Idan Yoav’s Almost Human

Video: Lee Meir’s Translation in the Body of the Text

Video: Yuval Goldstein’s Expensive Shit

Program Bet also includes Ran Ben Dror’s Agasi Pallas.

Program Gimel

September 7 at 17:30
September 8 at 22:30
September 9 at 12:00

Video: Meytal Blanaru’s Aurora

Video: Moran Yitzhaki Abergel’s Over Me

Video: Lilach Livne’s Monday Larissa

Program Daled

September 7 at 22:30
September 8 at 17:30
September 9 at 14:30

Video: Yoni Soutchy’s Ben

Video: Merav Cohen’s And When the Beast Returned

Video: Amit Zamir’s Buba (Doll)

Program Hey

September 9 at 22:30
September 10 at 17:30 and 20:00

Video: Liron Ozeri’s Caravan

Video: Ido Batash’s Bread and Circuses Blood

Video: Artour Astman’s Foosho

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Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s “Animal Lost”

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Trailer for Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s Animal Lost, with the original cast

“It started from the fact that we wanted to have more shows in Israel,” Yossi Berg remarks of the decision to create a second cast for Animal Lost. Berg and his partner, Oded Graf, premiered the work in Copenhagen with an international cast in 2010, and the full-length production has since made a splash with performances at prestigious venues ranging from the American Dance Festival to Montpellier Danse in France. Yet juggling the schedules of the standout cast members, who work as freelance artists throughout Europe, proved a formidable impediment for mounting regular shows in the choreographers’ home country. Recounts Berg, “We would like to keep running the piece on a regular basis in Israel, because it’s quite new and it doesn’t make sense that we are invited all over the world and we are performing all over the world but not here, which is our base. This is how we started the idea of making another cast.”

Now Israeli audiences who have heard the buzz from abroad will get their chance to catch the wildly popular production with locally-based dancers as part of the Suzanne Dellal Centre’s Macholohet (SummerDance) festival on July 29-30. Two of the dancers joining Berg and Graf on the Inbal Hall’s intimate stage are Israelis Ofir Yudilevitch and Ayala Frenkel. Completing Animal Lost’s second cast – and keeping the mix international in flavor – are Olivia Court Mesa and Rosalind Noctor, more recent additions to Tel Aviv’s contemporary dance scene. The new group has a different balance of gender and nationality than the original cast, but ultimately, Berg and Graf believed that these individuals could form the dynamic, cohesive ensemble that drives the dance theater production. “We felt that all these four people have very beautiful energies, and from our experiences, it’s very important to work not only with artists but with people who are very nice and have their unique personalities,” reflects Berg.

Animal Lost by Yossi Berg and Oded Graf. Photo by Christoffer Askman.

While developing Animal Lost with the original ensemble, which continues to perform abroad, Berg recalls, “We dealt a lot with stereotypes and clichés. There’s some truth in this, but also, at the same time, it can be nothing, it can be nonsense. And this gap is interesting.” Restaging the work on the new cast has enabled Berg and Graf to dig further into the subject, to pose questions anew and to discover novel perspectives with this different group of performers. Berg acknowledges that resetting Animal Lost spurred him to search inside himself to find what he wanted to pass on to the dancers, a process that will no doubt enrich his own interpretation of the work.

Audiences returning to the piece may also notice some slight changes, since the co-creators strove to make the dance fit for the local ensemble. Yet the structure has remained the same, and so too has much of the text in which performers proclaim their nationalities, religions, occupations, and hobbies. With some of the declarations based on those made by the original dancers, the tensions between fiction and truth or expectation and reality are heightened, adding an additional layer to this cast’s exploration of cultural stereotypes. Noting that “some things were true and some things were not” in the first cast’s text as well, Berg explains, “We work a lot with this line of how you reach this place that you present it as if it’s true. . . . Some things have the potential of being truth, and these are the places that are important for us to present as reliable, because here we touch the deep place of the subject that we are dealing with.” As the dancers remove their masks on stage this weekend, they will reveal faces that are fresh to Animal Lost, but even in their debut, they are likely to go beneath the surface and probe the production’s theme to its core.

More Information

The new cast of Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s Animal Lost will perform at the Suzanne Dellal Centre on Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30 at 20:30. Tickets are available at 03-5105656.

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