Tag Archive | "Amir Kolben"

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Machol Shalem 2009: A Cutting-Edge Dance Festival in Jerusalem

Posted on 27 December 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: Trailer for Less Mess, a collaboration between Ruby Edelman, Sascha Engel, and Christina Gehrig Binder

Just as the dance scene has quieted down a bit in Tel Aviv after a series of festivals, the growing Jerusalem scene is heating up with Machol Shalem’s SHALEM festival 2009.  Unlike most of the festivals which took place here in Tel Aviv, SHALEM features not only concerts but classes, such as Ronen Itzhaki’s workshop for men and Claudia Hauri’s workshop for dancers and actors, cleverly titled “Don’t try it at home.”  This year’s programming runs in Jerusalem from 29-31, and Tel Aviv audiences can see some of the festival’s offerings when they come to the Opera House’s rehearsal room on January 1-2.

To get the scoop on SHALEM 2009 and its parent organization Machol Shalem, I talked to Ruby Edelman, who co-directs the festival along with his partner Idel.  The article below was first published in the Jerusalem Post as “Daring Dance in Jerusalem.”

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Daring Dance in Jerusalem

“It’s a whole different playground,” Ruby Edelman says of Jerusalem’s dance scene.  Tel Aviv is typically recognized as the hot spot for concert dance in Israel but Edelman and his partner Ofra Idel are injecting new energy into Jerusalem’s fledgling scene with Machol Shalem.

Edelman recalls, “The initiation of Machol Shalem started in 2002, [with] me and some other independent dancemakers in Jerusalem who were looking for a place to continue [our] creation.”  Initially, the organizers invited young choreographers to present their work on a single evening and each year, the group’s activities expanded.  Eventually they founded a multi-day festival called SHALEM – The Jerusalem Dance Festival and established a home base with a studio in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood.

Or Marin’s Origami.  Photo by Ascaf.

Now, with three days of inventive workshops and cutting-edge performances by both Israeli and foreign artists, SHALEM is easily one of Israel’s most adventurous dance festivals.  SHALEM’s progressive programming flies in the face of conservative stereotypes that characterize both Jerusalem itself and the city’s arts scene.  Indeed, Edelman affirms that the festival’s mission is “to present an alternative channel to what modern, contemporary, independent dance can be at this time . . . to search for things which are not obvious and which present variations of what dance can be about.”

Running from December 29-31, SHALEM 2009 advances this search for bold, experimental approaches to dance with what Edelman calls an emphasis on “unique, fresh collaborations of new dance and new media.”  Efrat Rubin joins forces with animation artist Osnat Wald to create her latest work, Yom (Day).  Meanwhile, Copenhagen-based Israeli choreographer Esther Wrobel performs while hanging on a rope against the backdrop of Marlene Nielson’s video projections in CRUST.  Even Splash, a work for young audiences by Australian-born, Jerusalem-based choreographer Joel Bray, includes an interactive video along with live dance.

Less Mess by Ruby Edelman, Sascha Engel, and Christina Gehrig Binder.  Photo by Christian Glaus.

Video and an exploratory spirit also play a prominent part in Edelman’s work, a co-production of Machol Shalem and Tanzhaus Zurich with Swiss dancemaker Christina Gehrig Binder and German filmmaker and choreographer Sascha Engel as creative collaborators.  The trio, graduates of the Rotterdam Dance Academy and frequent artistic partners, embarked on a road trip throughout Israel that was filmed by Seffy Hirsch.  Then the three choreographers built a series of duets based on their experiences during this journey.  The resulting work, called Less Mess, includes clips of the video as reference points.

Technology plays an even more active role during the performances of a few innovative works to be showcased in SHALEM 2009.  During Or Marin’s new Origami, a real-time recording of the work will be projected while the dancers perform.  Berlin-based choreographer Efrat Stempler is also working with real-time recording and projection in her evening-length Shu Shu.  In this trio, the dancers are outfitted with miniature surveillance cameras that monitor the other performers and expose them by screening images in all directions throughout the space.

SHALEM 2009 also features Entr’acte, a duet by Holland’s dance theater cabaret group Gato Bizar that was a previous success in the festival.  The shows are rounded out with excerpts from the Jerusalem-based Kolben Dance Company’s latest production, Amir Kolben’s Min-hara, and a new solo by former Kolben dancer Evelin Ifrach.

Entr’acte by Gato Bizar.  Photo by Maarten Eiland.

While SHALEM’s exciting programming should be enough to attract crowds from outside Jerusalem into the city, the festival is also catering to Tel Aviv’s committed dance audience by bringing both Less Mess and Shu Shu to the Opera House’s rehearsal room from January 1-2.  Machol Shalem’s purpose may be to strengthen dance in Jerusalem, but with its daring curatorial vision, it is enriching the entire country’s cultural scene.

More Information

SHALEM’s performances run from December 29-31 at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem and from January 1-2 at the Opera House in Tel Aviv.  Tickets are available at www.bimot.co.il or 02-6237999.

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Maholohet: SummerDance2009 at Suzanne Dellal Center

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Yoram Karmi and Uri Morag’s Man, Woman, Reflections will be performed during SummerDance

It seems like every country has its share of summer dance festivals, and Israel is no exception.  The country’s main concert dance festival, SummerDance (Maholohet in Hebrew) is already underway at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.  My preview of the festival, “Damn Hot,” was first published in the Jerusalem Post.

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Damn Hot

The Suzanne Dellal Center is turning up the heat with its Maholohet (Hot Dance) summer dance festival.  This year’s program boasts a full summer of sizzling performances, showcasing the best of Israeli dance.  From July 1 until August 29, hundreds of dancers will take the stage in 76 concerts.

Part of Maholohet‘s appeal is the appearance of so many preeminent companies.  The Batsheva, Inbal Pinto and Vertigo Dance Companies are each presenting multiple programs of critically acclaimed works.  Many popular smaller groups and up-and-coming independent choreographers are also heating up the program with their creative fires.

Raising the temperature further this summer are 11 hot-off-the-press premieres by choreographers as diverse as Yasmeen Godder, Alice Dor-Cohen, Ronit Ziv, Idan Cohen and Elina Pechersky.  Another much anticipated highlight is a special guest program with dancers from the famed Paris Opera Ballet.

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Amir Kolben’s “Gates of Jerusalem” – Dancing the Real Jerusalem

Posted on 10 February 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Gates of Jerusalem

Amir Kolben’s Gates of Jerusalem.  Photo by Uri Nevo.

A version of this article, titled “Dancing Amongst Walls,” was published in the Jerusalem Post‘s “Billboard” entertainment guide on February 6, 2009.

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What is the “real Jerusalem”?

To choreographer Amir Kolben, the real Jerusalem is “a city of tensions, between being holy and being profane, between high and low, between dangerous and wonderful places, between dirty markets and serenity.  It’s so extreme,” he says, “I find the city lives within these tensions of so many things.”

It is this view of the world’s holiest city that Kolben will present onstage in his latest dance, The Gates of Jerusalem.  Intrigued by mayor Nir Barkat’s vision of ten million visitors ascending to Jerusalem each year, Kolben sought to create a complex portrait which stretches beyond the images that glorify the city to tourists.  His contemporary choreography also challenges stereotypes of Israeli dance.  While many foreigners may associate this country with folk dance, Israel boasts a thriving concert dance scene.

Kolben is more equipped than most Israeli choreographers to tackle the topic of Jerusalem.  With its many theaters, festivals, and studios, Tel Aviv is the center of the country’s dance activity and the home for most dance companies.  Yet Kolben has based his group, Kolben Dance, in Jerusalem since its inception twelve years ago.  It might be easier to live in the country’s artistic capital, but Kolben notes that despite the conveniences of Tel Aviv, he feels he belongs more in the “deeper, spiritual city of Jerusalem.”

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International Exposure 2008: Day 6

Posted on 25 January 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


(Video: Kolben Dance in Amir Kolben’s “Interface”)

What’s a visit to Israel without a journey to Jerusalem?  Today, attendees of the International Exposure Festival are making the one-hour trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Our visit will start with Kolben Dance Company’s performance of Amir Kolben’s Interface.  After a tour of the city, we’ll return to Tel Aviv for a farewell reception.  The festival closes with the Inbal Pinto Dance Company in Hydra by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak.  Hydra packed the theater when I saw it at the 2008 Israel Festival.   I’m guessing that though we might be tired after 6 days of dance watching, we’ll flock to the Suzanne Dellal theater one more time for this performance!

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