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Acco Fringe Theater Festival: Alternative Theater (and Dance)

Posted on 04 October 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Some of the entries in this year’s competition, including Ofer Amram’s physical theater work Sanatorium

I took a detour from writing strictly about dance when I accepted an assignment to cover the Acco Fringe Theater Festival for the Jerusalem Post.  Though I’ve never been to this event, I’ve heard that it’s one of the most adventurous and intriguing festivals in the country – and I was certainly intrigued by how many programs in this theater festival are movement based.

Some shows are billed as dance theater (Yoav Bertel and Avigail Rubin’s A Compensating Experience), physical theater (Ofer Amram’s Sanatorium), or motion theater (the group Makhol).  Others are outright dance works, like the Acco Dance Greenhouse ensemble’s Neuronirvana, which was shown this summer as part of the Maholohet festival at Suzanne Dellal.

The international selections also feature a good dose of movement.  3Some, from Germany, was created by Israeli choreographer and actor Nir De-Wolf with Knut Berger, while The Vengeance Cell is by Japanese butoh artists Taketeru Kudo and Jun Wakabayash.  The Teatro Pavana street theater group from the Netherlands includes stilt-walkers, and the German group Grotest Maru employs physical theater techniques in The Waters of Acco – A Dance on the Shore.

To learn more about this year’s Acco Fringe Theater Festival, read my article below, which was initially published in the Jerusalem Post.

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Alternative Acco

In the midst of the Jewish holiday of Succot, modern-day Israelis added a new celebration.  Just as the ancient Israelites journeyed to Jerusalem for the holiday, hundreds of thousands of hungry culture-goers flock annually to the old city of Acco during Hol Hamoed to witness the latest harvest of alternative theater.  Now in its 30th season, the Acco Fringe Theater Festival is as adventurous as ever with 450 diverse performances challenging typical notions of theater.

Smadar Ya’aron, who is co-directing the festival for the first time with Moni Yosef, explains, “We are looking for pieces of theater which propose another approach, whether it’s visually, or concerning the content or other aspects of the theatrical event . . . What is also important for us is that the theater will be daring . . . To dare to do a step, to dare to say something which is maybe not so popular, to dare to try and explore.”

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Noa Dar’s “Tetris” – Shaping the Space

Posted on 14 January 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(Video: The Noa Dar Dance Group in Tetris, a collaboration between Noa Dar and visual artist Nati Shamia-Opher)

I first wrote about Noa Dar’s Tetris (טטריס) in “From Studios to Stages” on my own blog and have edited an excerpt of that article for this post.

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It’s no wonder that Tetris (2006) premiered at the Acco Festival for Alternative Theater, or that it won a prize there.  This collaboration between choreographer Noa Dar and visual artist Nati Shamia-Opher shapes the performance space into the most alternative set-up that I have ever witnessed, and it left its mark on my mind when I saw it last year.

I heard about Tetris soon after arriving in Israel and eagerly looked forward to seeing a staging in Tel Aviv at the Noa Dar Studio.  I was familiar with the the chosen location because I had taken several contemporary technique classes there – but when I arrived for the performance November 10, 2007, I found the studio cleverly transformed.  Tetris‘s treatment of the spectator-performer relationship in this redesigned space is so unique that I would like to describe a bit of it below:

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