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From Writing to Talking about Dance

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

DTW’s artistic director, Carla Peterson, talks about Deganit Shemy’s work

Now that the jetlag is wearing off and I’m more or less settled back in to Tel Aviv, I’m ready to tell the tales of a dance blogger on vacation in the U.S.

What does a dance blogger do on vacation?

Well, besides seeing family and friends, this blogger did a bit of work and went from writing about dance to talking about dance.

Lecturing on Dance in Israel

I started my trip with two lectures about dance in Israel.  Many thanks to all of my readers who sent me suggestions and voiced their interest when I posted my “Call for Help,” and a special thanks to Kathy Hassinger at Emerson College and Jodi Falk at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School for inviting me to talk to their classes.

After months of staring at my computer screen while typing posts – and then desperately hoping to get some feedback, no matter how delayed, in the form of comments or e-mails – the immediate responses of the Emerson and PVPA students was a welcome change.  When I talked about the history of concert dance in Israel and the flowering of Israeli contemporary dance, curious students peppered me with questions; when I showed video excerpts of choreography, the rooms buzzed with students’ excited murmurs.  I loved sharing my insights and hearing their reactions – and I hope that I will have many more chances in the future to talk about dance in Israel.

Seeing Deganit Shemy’s Arena and Meeting Dance Bloggers

With my lectures in Massachusetts over, I turned my attention to the New York leg of my trip.   As I perused the performance listings, I saw that Deganit Shemy, a New York-based choreographer from Israel, was scheduled for a performance at Dance Theater Workshop (DTW) on April 16th.  Adding to the lure was a pre-performance talk moderated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, who runs the Infinite Body blog and Body and Soul podcast.  I decided to make a day of it and scheduled a meet-up at DTW for dance bloggers before the event.

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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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