Tag Archive | "contemporary dance"

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Contemporary Israeli Dance Week: Gala in New York

Posted on 22 January 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Quiet by Arkadi Zaides. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Heads up, New Yorkers!  In June, a wave of contemporary dance from Israel is coming your way as part of the annual La MaMa Moves Festival.  The city is already home to an astonishing number of Israeli-born choreographers, and La MaMa’s celebration will include five of these New York-based artists and groups: Deganit Shemy, LeeSaar The Company, Netta Yerushalmy, YelleB Dance Ensemble, and Neta Pulvermacher.  But the Contemporary Israeli Dance Week mini-festival is also scheduled to feature a stellar line-up straight from Israel.  Yasmeen Godder, Arkadi Zaides, Idan Cohen, Maya Brinner, and the team of Tamar Borer and Tamara Erde will offer a glimpse of the latest in Israeli-made productions, and master classes will give New York dancers a taste of what’s happening in local studios.

On Monday, January 31, a gala evening featuring Deganit Shemy, LeeSaar The Company, Netta Yerushalmy, and YelleB Dance Ensemble will be held at La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Club). The gala is a fundraiser for the Contemporary Israeli Dance Week, and more information about tickets can be found at the festival’s website.  For those of you who can’t make it to the gala, here’s a sneak peak at the festival with clips of works by Godder, Zaides, Cohen, Brinner,and Borer and Erde.

Video: Preview of Contemporary Israeli Dance Week

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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Karmiel Festival 2009: Israeli Folk Dance and More

Posted on 02 August 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Karmiel Dance Festival

Karmiel Dance Festival.  Photo by Mati Elmaliach.

When many people hear the phrase “Israeli dance,” they think of Israeli folk dance.  And while the Karmiel Festival includes all sorts of dance done in Israel – including contemporary, jazz, and ballroom – it’s Israeli folk dance which forms the core of the country’s largest dance festival.

Shlomo Maman, who has been involved with the festival for ten years and took over the artistic directorship from Karmiel’s founder Yonatan Karmon, explained that the idea to have some mix of dance styles was present from the festival’s start in 1988.  “The main issue of the festival is the Israeli folk dances, but it’s very important for us to bring other groups,” he says.  “All meet together which makes this very big and very interesting . . . everyone will learn from the others.”

This year, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Ido Tadmor, Rina Schenfeld, Vertigo’s second company, and a group of dancers from the renowned Paris Opera Ballet will make appearances at Karmiel.  Yet the bulk of the festival – which boasts 5,000 dancers and 80 events over a mere 3 days – is composed of concerts, competitions, and even classes in folk dance.

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More on Maholohet: A Hot Summer of Dance Continues

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Aviv Eveguy’s Dimona will show at Maholohet on August 4

Yes, I know, I already posted one article about Maholohet (SummerDance).  But some people might need a reminder that there’s still one month left of nearly nightly performances at Suzanne Dellal, and perhaps those of you who are abroad would like to hear a bit more about this Israeli summer tradition.

Although I was lucky enough to see many of the festival’s offerings earlier this season, several of this summer’s works were new (or new to me), and so in July I found myself walking over to Suzanne Dellal a few times a week.  One of the standouts so far was Yoram Karmi and Uri Morag’s Man, Woman, Reflections, with its brilliant use of swinging lamps, illuminating projections, and clever choreography involving innovative sets.  The two-part Under by Matanicola and Yasmeen Godder also delivered a punch with its intense atmosphere and powerful performances.  And just this week, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Rushes caught my eye with images that were simple, striking, and sustained for just the right amount of time.

Even if you’ve missed these concerts, there’s still plenty to come!  Read on to see what else will heat up the stage this summer – all of the works I’ve mentioned below will be performed during August.

The article below was first published as “Some Summer Spice” in the Jerusalem Post on July 12, 2009.

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Some Summer Spice

Even the numbers of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s SummerDance Festival are impressive: eight weeks of concerts, 76 performances, 11 premieres and one group of special guests from abroad. But what’s behind the statistics – an exceptionally diverse assortment of dance – is even more extraordinary.

SummerDance 2009 (Maholohet, a play on the phrase “hot dance” in Hebrew) has showcased the wealth of Israeli concert dance since its inception 13 years ago.  What started as a three-week festival gradually expanded, and now, with the Suzanne Dellal Center celebrating its 20th anniversary, SummerDance is having its hottest season yet.

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