Posted on 20 February 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili
Video: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performing Ohad Naharin’s Decadance
If you’re in Atlanta, Georgia – or if you know someone in Atlanta – here’s a heads up:
I’m happy to announce that I am speaking in the Emory Friends of Dance Lecture Series on Wednesday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). My talk, Foreign Exchange: American and Israeli Dance from Martha Graham to Ohad Naharin, will precede a performance by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet of Ohad Naharin’s Decadance. I won’t be in Atlanta in person, but I will be speaking via Skype and have an exciting presentation prepared!
Cedar Lake performing Ohad Naharin’s Decadance. Photo by Paul B. Goode.
Here’s the official blurb about my lecture:
Forty years ago, Israel’s premiere dance company imported works by top American choreographers. Now cutting-edge American troupes like Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are drawing crowds with choreography by Israeli artists. In this lecture, dance scholar Deborah Friedes Galili explores the dynamic relationship between American and Israeli dance and traces the meteoric rise of Israeli contemporary dance. This lecture will be presented live from Israel via webcam prior to the performance by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.
Cedar Lake performing Ohad Naharin’s Decadance. Photo by Paul B. Goode.
My lecture is free and open to the public, so if you’re in Atlanta, I hope you will come listen in the Chase Lobby at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, 1700 N. Decatur Road. I will speak for one half hour, and then there will be a question and answer session. Please let others know about this event as well!
(Video: Excerpt from Tomer Heymann’s Out of Focus)
More and more video cameras are making their way into dance studios as choreographers seek to document their work. Usually the footage remains in personal or company archives, unseen by outsiders. But the film Out of Focus offers the public a peek inside the process of Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company.
In 2007, filmmaker Tomer Heymann focused his lens on Naharin as the choreographer coached New York’s Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Deca Dance. Besides close up views of the choreography, Heymann’s Out of Focus includes interview clips with Naharin. With bits of conversation set against the sometimes bustling backdrop of the studio, the discussion feels particularly fresh, open, and honest.
While the Batsheva Dance Company recently displayed Naharin’s repertory on tour in the U.S., Heyman’s behind-the-scenes documentary has been seen primarily in Israel. Now, though, Out of Focus is coming to New York. 92YTribeca’s screening on April 30th will include a special appearance by Heymann himself.
Since 1981, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award has been bestowed annually on luminaries of the dance world. From Martha Graham (the first recipient) to Laura Dean (the 2008 recipient), selected choreographers have won this prize with their lifelong devotion to building and shaping their art form. The honorees have pioneered new techniques and ventured into unfamiliar compositional territory. Out of their experiments emerged choreography that was not only groundbreaking but masterful.
With the exceptions of Pina Bausch and Maguy Marin, the Scripps recipients have been American or based in the United States. This year, though, a third choreographer from abroad will receive the award: Ohad Naharin. The award presentation will take place on June 25th at ADF in Durham, North Carolina.
Naharin, the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, has left an indelible impact not only on the troupe he leads but on the larger Israeli dance scene. Yet as his selection for the Scripps award suggests, Naharin’s influence is also felt beyond Israel’s borders.
Indeed, Naharin’s work has spread worldwide. Major companies including the Nederlans Dans Theater and the New York-based Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet have performed his critically acclaimed and captivating choreography. Juilliard students have learned several of Naharin’s works over the years, while young dancers in Sweden recently presented Kamuyot. And of course, the Batsheva Dance Company itself has toured around the globe with a tempting menu of Naharin’s visual delights.
Posted on 27 October 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili
An ad for the exhibit’s September 18th opening from the Israeli Consulate
It’s not only Israeli dance groups that perform in Israel. With enthusiastic Israeli audiences at the ready, companies from around the world have made Israel a destination on their tours. In a single month, the International Tel Aviv Dance Festival (Tel Aviv Dance 2008) will feature groups from Spain, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Slovenia, the U.K., the Netherlands, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Madagascar, and the United States. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet received a warm welcome this weekend when they opened the festival with works by Joe Stromgren, Crystal Pite, and Israel’s own Ohad Naharin; the dancers are now touring through the rest of the country.
Cedar Lake is not the only American dance company with strong ties to Israel and Israeli dance. Based in Connecticut, Pilobolus commissioned Israeli choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak to create Rushes in 2007, and the company also performed in Israel last year. While on tour, Robert Whitman took a series of stunning photographs featuring Pilobolus’s trademark sculptural physicality against the backdrop of Israel’s natural treasures, ancient sites, and modern urban delights. These images are on display in New York City’s Chelsea Market (75 9th Avenue, between 15th and 16th Streets) from September 18 until October 31, 2008. I went to the opening event and wrote the post below for The Winger. Read on, and if you’re in New York City, rush over to Chelsea Market before the photographs come down!
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: