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CityDance in Jerusalem: Exploring the Gaps Between American and Israeli Dance

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: CityDance Ensemble

You would have thought that to meet Paul Gordon Emerson, the director of the Washington D.C. based CityDance Ensemble, I would have taken a train from New Jersey (my home state) to the capital of the U.S. while I was still living there.  But instead I grabbed a bus to Jerusalem a few nights ago.

Let’s backtrack: Paul’s interest in reviving older modern dance masterpieces and my research on these works first brought us together online nearly six years ago. We’ve kept up our correspondence over the years, reconnecting this fall when CityDance staged Sophie Maslow’s Folksay from Labanotation score (this was doubly exciting for me: my undergraduate thesis on Jewish-American choreographers highlighted Maslow’s career, and I studied Labanotation intensively in graduate school). Yet we never met face to face – until now.

CityDance is currently touring the Middle East, and as part of the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival – which features companies from around the world performing both in the West Bank and in Israel – the company had concerts in Jerusalem and Nazareth this week. Since the Tel Aviv is only an hour away from Jerusalem, I jumped at the chance to see the company and hopped on a bus.

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