Tag Archive | "Adi Sha’al"

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More About Vertigo Dance Company & the Eco-Art Village

Posted on 24 July 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

With a studio in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv and another home base in the form of an Eco-Art Village on Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey, Vertigo Dance Company is certainly far from ordinary.  But what makes Vertigo even more of a standout is the exceptional artistry and socially conscious vision of its artistic directors, Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al.

From the very start, the couple’s striking choreography made an impression on the local dance scene. The pair’s first duet, Vertigo, drew not only from Sha’al’s own experience in the air force but also considered the feeling of dizziness within the context of personal relationships; the work garnered them the 1992 On the Way to London award from the British Council. The following year, their multimedia duet Contact Lenses won the first prize in the prestigious Shades of Dance festival for emerging choreographers.

As Wertheim and Sha’al expanded the ensemble of their Vertigo Dance Company, they became known for making daringly athletic work that explored deeply human issues.   The company’s repertory also shattered the conventions of traditional concert dance.  The Power of Balance (2001), a collaboration with British choreographer Adam Benjamin, integrated the group’s regular roster of dancers with disabled dancers.  Placing mankind’s relationship to the environment at its core, Birth of the Phoenix (2004) abandoned the theater for the outdoors, with the dancers performing on a dirt ground under a geodesic dome.

In June, Vertigo performed a trilogy of recent works – the iconic Birth of the Phoenix, the supremely energetic White Noise (2008), and the magnificent Mana (2009) – at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. Now the company is bringing these three stellar dances to the Suzanne Dellal Center as part of the SummerDance 2010 festival with performances running from August 2 to August 4.   As a bonus, the performance of White Noise on June 3 will be followed by a meeting with the artists.

Want to learn more about this unique group?  Here are several videos with footage of interviews at the Eco-Art Village and the dances from the trilogy as well as Vertigo and Noa Wertheim’s appearance at the TedxTelAviv event.

Below is a video about Vertigo Dance Company’s Eco-Art Village, with brief clips primarily of Noa Wertheim’s Birth of the Phoenix.

In this next video, artistic directors Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al as well as some of Vertigo’s dancers talk about working in the Eco-Art Village. Many of the dance excerpts are from Wertheim’s White Noise.

Vertigo and Noa Wertheim were part of TedxTelAviv, which was held on April 26, 2010 at the Jaffa port.  The video below includes an excerpt from White Noise, followed by Wertheim discussing her move to the Eco-Art Village and her philosophy. The video closes with an excerpt of Mana.

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Vertigo Dance Company: A Conversation with Choreographer Noa Wertheim

Posted on 25 May 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Download the podcast (You can right-click the link and press “save as” to download the file to your computer.)

You can download the podcast file by clicking here (use right click and “save as”).

Adi Sha’al and Noa Wertheim of Vertigo Dance Company. Photo by Eyal Landesman.

(This podcast was initially produced for Israel Seen in 2008.  You can subscribe to this podcast using the iTunes software by clicking this link to the podcast feed.)

As I have traveled through Israel’s dance circles, I have run into Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al many times: at Vertigo Dance Company’s concerts at the Suzanne Dellal Center, at contact jams, and at a performance of Noa’s work on students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.  With their company, their school in Jerusalem, and their growing artist village on Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey, this dynamic couple is a powerful force in the Israeli contemporary dance scene.  They’re also revolutionary in their community-centered and environmentally-conscious approach to dance.

Video: Vertigo Dance Company’s Birth of the Phoenix

In this interview, held in the spring of 2008, Noa talks about raising a family while directing a company, building the Eco-Art Village, choreographing the site-specific environmental dance Birth of the Phoenix, and engaging in “tikkun olam” – healing the world – through her work.

Noa Wertheim’s White Noise. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

When we spoke two years ago, Noa was mounting her White Noise, and in the fall of 2009, she premiered her Mana at the Curtain Up Festival.  Along with her iconic Birth of the Phoenix, these two works are now being performed by Vertigo at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem.

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*This post was made possible thanks to a Fulbright student grant funded by the U.S.-Israel Educational Foundation and hosted by the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

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Curtain Up 2: Vertigo Dance Company and Noa Wertheim Host Elad Shechter

Posted on 24 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

When I called Adi Sha’al and Noa Wertheim, who direct the Vertigo Dance Company, they had just landed in Israel after an appearance at the General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America in Washington D.C.  There they had presented an excerpt from Wertheim’s Mana, which will be officially premiered in Curtain 2 along with Elad Shechter’s Roni.  I chatted with the couple about their U.S. trip and their experience with Curtain Up.


Noa Wertheim’s Mana.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Dance In Israel: How was your time at the General Assembly?
Adi Sha’al: People were very moved by Vertigo’s performance, and people came [up to us] afterwards, after they were clapping hands for a long time and standing up – some people even with tears.  We also talked about our social vision of the company and the Eco-Art Village . . . And we also did workshops and created connections with dance companies in D.C.


Noa Wertheim’s Mana.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

DII: What is your relationship to Curtain Up?
AS: It’s been a good relationship.  Vertigo [Dance Company] has been around for 17 years now, and all of our first shows were under this title, under Curtain Up.  We owe a lot to this institute.


Elad Shechter’s Roni.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

DII: What drew you and Noa to select Elad Shechter to be the choreographer for this program?
AS:  Elad used to be a dancer in our company, so we’ve known him for several years now.  Once Nilly Cohen [director of the dance department in the Culture and Arts Administration] and the people at Haramat Masach came with the idea of coaching, we said basically the only one that we can really coach and we can say that it will be real for us is somebody that we know, somebody that we have a dialogue with.


Elad Shechter’s Roni.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

AS: In a way, we are marking here two companies.  One is the main company which Noa is doing a piece for, and the other one is the young company, the Vertigo Ensemble, which Elad is doing a work for, and it’s [all] happening in Vertigo’s studios under the umbrella of Vertigo’s production.  And we [work with] the same co-artists.  Ran Bagno is making the music for both pieces; he’s a musician we’ve been working with together many years now.  Danny Fishof, he’s our lighting designer; he is doing the lighting design for both pieces, Mana and Roni.  And the costume designer is Rakefet Levy; she’s doing both pieces.  So we feel like it’s a production house called Vertigo, and it’s very exciting for us to do these two things together side-by-side in the same evening.


Noa Wertheim’s Mana.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

DII: Noa, can you tell me a bit about where Mana came from?
Noa Wertheim: I like to work from the movement, and I never have a clear idea, but I do have a certain attraction to something.  This time, the line and the circle came straight away.  After I was dealing with Ra’ash Lavan [Noa’s previous work, White Noise], where gravity was so important, it was different to work with the shapes.

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For listings of Curtain Up performances, please visit the Dance In Israel Calendars page.

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“Then and Now” Brings Old and New Together at Shades of Dance

Posted on 22 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Then: Ronit Ziv’s Rose Can’t Wait, from the 1999 Shades of Dance Festival

On my way home from “Then and Now,” a special opening program of the Shades of Dance (Gvanim) festival, J.S. Bach’s Air on the G String played on my iPod.  Immediately, images from a black-and-white film of choreographer Doris Humphrey’s Air for the G String flashed through my mind. Humphrey’s dance has not only been immortalized on film but stayed alive in reconstructions from Labanotation score; it’s a powerful reminder that choreography doesn’t need to be shelved a few years or even many decades after its premiere.

This was an appropriate vision after a concert which not only celebrated the new but paid tribute to the old.  Opening a festival devoted to emerging choreographers, “Then and Now” featured excerpts of four dances which, in the days when the festival doubled as a competition, won the coveted first prize.  Selections from Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror’s Two-Room Apartment (1987), Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al’s Vertigo (1992), Barak Marshall’s Aunt Leah (1995), and Ronit Ziv’s Rose Can’t Wait (1999) shared the stage with excerpts from the choreographers’ latest dances.

These works were met with an extremely warm reception, and I’m sure that the choreographers’ own performances contributed to the excitement.  The prolonged unison and matter-of-fact manners of Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror, the high-speed actions and reactions of Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al, and the daring physicality of Ronit Ziv and fellow dancer Noa Rosenthal were riveting to watch – especially because, in the case of Nir & Liat and Noa & Adi, these choreographers no longer perform on a regular basis. (( Barak Marshall, who is now based part-time in L.A., was not in Israel for this performance. ))

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Behind the Scenes at Gvanim: Shades of Dance Festival

Posted on 17 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Michael Miler's "Speed of Light"

Michael Miler’s The Speed of Light will be performed in program 1 of Shades of Dance.  Photograph by Eyal Landesman.

Last Saturday night was chilly and wet, but despite the discouraging weather conditions, I bundled up and trekked down to the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Choreographer Micheal Miler of Haifa’s Sigma Ensemble had invited me to a rehearsal for the Shades of Dance festival (called Gvanim in Hebrew).  Shades of Dance is mounted biennially, and since last year was an off year, I had effectively been waiting to attend the festival for over a year and a half.  A little rain wasn’t about to stop me from this special sneak peak.

Since its inception in 1984, Shades of Dance has showcased artists who are relatively fresh to the field of choreography.  It has helped launch the careers of some of Israel’s best-known choreographers including Yasmeen Godder, Inbal Pinto, Emanuel Gat, Ronit Ziv, Barak Marshall,  Renana Raz, Shlomi Bitton, Anat Danieli, Itzhik Galili, Sally-Anne Friedland, Yossi Yungman, Tamar Borer, Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal of Adama, Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al of Vertigo Dance Company, and Yoram Karmi of Fresco Dance Group.

Perhaps this is why my anticipation of this festival feels different: I can’t help but wonder what new choreographic voices will be revealed this year.  A mind-boggling 80 dances were submitted to the festival’s selection committee, composed of artistic director Hanoch Ben Dror with Ya’ara Dolev, Sally-Anne Friedland, Renana Raz, and Niv Sheinfeld.   I’m looking forward to seeing what sets the 10 chosen works apart from their competition when the 15th Shades of Dance festival opens this week.

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