Tag Archive | "ballet"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Idan Cohen’s “Swan Lake” Soars into the 21st Century

Posted on 23 August 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Idan Cohen's "Swan Lake"

Idan Cohen’s Swan Lake.  Photo by Marek Weis.

During a preview of the Maholohet festival at Suzanne Dellal in June, the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s famous Swan Lake filled the air.  But what I saw on stage had no overt connection to the images which popped into my mind: a ballerina executing 32 fouettes, four petite dancers doing petit allegro with their arms interlinked, and row after row of “swans” waving their arms like powerful wings.

I was intrigued, and a few weeks ago, I sat down with choreographer Idan Cohen to hear about his contemporary take on one of the most famous ballets in history.  While the three minutes I saw of his work caught my eye, I’m now even more curious about the entire piece.  This is an unmistakably 21st-century Swan Lake, but the connections to the popular 18th-century version run deep.

This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post as “When the Cygnet Grows Up.”

* * *

When the Cygnet Grows Up

“I think the only reason to create something has to be out of love and out of a connection,” states choreographer Idan Cohen.

Like many in the dance world, Cohen feels a strong love for and a deep connection to Swan Lake, the iconic ballet which Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov presented at the famed Mariinsky Theatre in 1895.  Celebrated choreographers from George Balanchine to Mats Ek to Matthew Bourne have put their own spins on the work.  Now with the generous support of several organizations, including Israel’s Culture Ministry, the Pais Foundation and the Suzanne Dellal Center, Cohen is unveiling his own contemporary version in Tel Aviv.

Cohen cites the choreographic history of Swan Lake as one motivating factor in undertaking this production, and he adds, “I feel I have a very deep connection both to the music [by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky] and also to the cultural place that the music and the ballet takes inside our culture, the western culture.  Swan Lake presents such a beautiful, romantic image of strong forces: good opposite evil, beauty opposite alternative beauty, animal versus human . . . all those ideas that are portrayed in Swan Lake in such a defined way – I kind of wanted to open them up and to research how we relate to those forces today.”

Continue Reading

Comments (3)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2009 Brings L.A. to Israel

Posted on 19 August 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Sheetal Ghandi's Class

Sheetal Gandhi’s workshop group.  Photo by Tully Chen.

Sheetal Gandhi watched attentively as three pairs of her students transformed the material she had taught into duets.  The dancers chatted with each other in Hebrew, occasionally asking their teacher questions in English.  Yet there were other unfamiliar sounds peppering their speech: bols, syllables from an Indian drum and dance language.  The dancers’ lilting chants created a mesmerizing rhythmic pulse for their kathak-influenced movement.

Meanwhile, in another studio at the Suzanne Dellal Center, Jackie Lopez – aka Miss Funk – was introducing her students to wack’n, one genre of hip-hop.  Starting off slowly, she layered arm gestures onto a full-bodied rocking action, sped up the movement, and played even more with the coordination.  After reviewing a popping phrase and moving onto a house combination, she turned to the dancers.  “I don’t want professional house dancers,” she told them.  “I just want you to feel something new.”

Trying something new is the driving force behind Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues, a unique summer workshop which creates links between the Israeli and American dance scenes.  Claudio Kogon, deputy director of the Suzanne Dellal Center, elaborated, “The point of this program is to bring people who have a unique background, to bring choreographers that could offer people here in Israel something different.”  While the Israeli dancers who participated in this workshop had years of experience in contemporary dance, most of them had little contact with either Sheetal’s kathak-flavored fusion of dance or Jackie’s rich hip-hop vocabulary.  They came, as Jackie hoped, to feel something new.

Continue Reading

Comments (5)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Americans in Israel: Cedar Lake in Tel Aviv Dance 2008

Posted on 23 October 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Ohad Naharin’s Decadance. Photo by Paul B. Goode

It used to be that Israeli companies like Batsheva Dance Company and the now defunct Bat-Dor toured to the U.S. with American repertory (( Batsheva Dance Company was founded in 1964 by the Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, a patroness of Martha Graham.  Graham was the company’s artistic adviser, and the group performed not only several of her works but also dances by numerous Americans and Europeans – some of who became artistic directors during the group’s early decades. )).  But Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s appearance at the Tel Aviv Dance 2008 festival marks a turning point in dance history: this American company is bringing Israeli repertory to Israel.  Cedar Lake’s programs will include excerpts from Decadance by Ohad Naharin, Batsheva’s artistic director.

Last year I peeked into Cedar Lake’s rehearsal process with Naharin by watching Tomer Heymann’s documentary, Out of Focus.  Whereas the Batsheva dancers take class daily in Gaga, a movement practice developed by Naharin, Cedar Lake’s dancers had to move away from their ballet background and immerse themselves in a dramatically different method of training and working.  This shift required the dancers to trade a traditional emphasis on external appearances for an intense process of personal and physical exploration – a major challenge for dancers reared and rooted in the ballet studio, with its ever-present mirror.

But Cedar Lake is explicitly billed as a contemporary ballet company.  Its repertory is not drawn from 19th century ballet classics but from a range of modern-day works, some of which blur the borders between genres of dance.  Thus the dancers that tackled this challenge did so with within the company’s framework of versatility and physical facility, which is beautifully captured in this video below:

Continue Reading

Comments (2)

My new book is out! Click on the image to learn more:


Advertise Here

Topics

Search (posts) for:

Archives