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Close Encounters Series: Yasmeen Godder

Posted on 03 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation will be performed in New Haven, CT as part of Yale University’s World Performance Project Festival on November 11-12. Photo by Tamar Lamm.  See our Events page for the listing.

Throughout my time in Israel, I have had the privilege of speaking with a number of choreographers and dancers about their art.  Here on Dance In Israel, I will be sharing these conversations with you in a series of “Close Encounters” articles and in a series of podcasted audio interviews.  This “Close Encounters” article on Yasmeen Godder was first published on The Winger in June of 2008.

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Yasmeen Godder. Photo by Natan Dvir.

If you’re part of the New York dance scene, you’ve probably stepped through some of the same doors as Yasmeen Godder. Born in Israel and raised in Jerusalem until age 11, Yasmeen moved to the U.S. with her family, attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York City, studied at Movement Research and the Klein School, and received her undergraduate degree from NYU’s Tisch School. The Kitchen, DTW, and Dancing in the Streets have all commissioned work from her, and she was awarded a Bessie in 2001 for I Feel Funny Today.

If you’re part of the Israeli dance scene, you’ve undoubtedly felt Yasmeen’s influence and quite possibly crossed paths with her. I had heard of Yasmeen prior to arriving in Israel because of her activities in the U.S. and the acclaim which has greeted her works both in the states and Europe, and as soon as I arrived in Israel, I began to realize the impact she has made in her home country. Her name frequently came up in conversations about both choreographers and teachers, and many people urged me to see her work and take her class. So it was that I ventured down to Yafo (Jaffa) to take technique at her studio, attended a performance there of Sudden Birds (see the video below), and went to a performance of I’m Mean, I Am at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

Months later, I’m not surprised that I heard so much buzz about Yasmeen. I found Yasmeen’s classes to be quite challenging and enormously helpful in their specificity, especially as I attempt to widen my body’s range and move with less muscular effort. She welcomes students’ reflections in class and presents her own ideas with clarity and details that enable me to adjust my mindset and body to a more unfamiliar technical framework.

I also found Yasmeen’s choreography to be as challenging as her classes, and refreshingly so. Continue Reading

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