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Behind the Scenes at Gvanim: Shades of Dance Festival

Posted on 17 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Michael Miler's "Speed of Light"

Michael Miler’s The Speed of Light will be performed in program 1 of Shades of Dance.  Photograph by Eyal Landesman.

Last Saturday night was chilly and wet, but despite the discouraging weather conditions, I bundled up and trekked down to the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Choreographer Micheal Miler of Haifa’s Sigma Ensemble had invited me to a rehearsal for the Shades of Dance festival (called Gvanim in Hebrew).  Shades of Dance is mounted biennially, and since last year was an off year, I had effectively been waiting to attend the festival for over a year and a half.  A little rain wasn’t about to stop me from this special sneak peak.

Since its inception in 1984, Shades of Dance has showcased artists who are relatively fresh to the field of choreography.  It has helped launch the careers of some of Israel’s best-known choreographers including Yasmeen Godder, Inbal Pinto, Emanuel Gat, Ronit Ziv, Barak Marshall,  Renana Raz, Shlomi Bitton, Anat Danieli, Itzhik Galili, Sally-Anne Friedland, Yossi Yungman, Tamar Borer, Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal of Adama, Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al of Vertigo Dance Company, and Yoram Karmi of Fresco Dance Group.

Perhaps this is why my anticipation of this festival feels different: I can’t help but wonder what new choreographic voices will be revealed this year.  A mind-boggling 80 dances were submitted to the festival’s selection committee, composed of artistic director Hanoch Ben Dror with Ya’ara Dolev, Sally-Anne Friedland, Renana Raz, and Niv Sheinfeld.   I’m looking forward to seeing what sets the 10 chosen works apart from their competition when the 15th Shades of Dance festival opens this week.

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Home Port Festival: History in the Making for the Choreographers Association

Posted on 13 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

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Choreographers celebrating before the opening of the Home Port festival.  Photo by Dorit Talpaz.

This may sound a bit extravagant, but I don’t think I am exaggerating.  Last night I witnessed dance history – and I hope that the opening night of the Home Port Festival (and the festival itself) will go down in the books not as an isolated moment in time but as the recognized beginning of a new stage, figuratively and literally, for Israel’s independent choreographers.

The excitement was palpable when I arrived at the festival last night, and the energy only grew as more people streamed into the enormous hangar.   While Oy Division played a rousing klezmer set, I mingled with choreographers, dancers, administrators, government officials, dance writers, and dance fans.  Everyone seemed to recognize that this collective celebration of individual creation was a momentous occasion.  The dream for a permanent home for the Amuta‘s artists, though still not fully realized, no longer seemed like an impossibility; indeed, the possibilities of what the dance scene would gain in the next weeks at Home Port emboldened the choreographers to dream anew.

After the enthusiastic crowd overflowed the risers, a one-of-a-kind dance marathon commenced.  39 choreographers from the Amuta presented a total of 33 solos and 3 duets, and 38 of the choreographers themselves delivered electrifying performances.

My intention was simply to watch and enjoy, but as each piece sparked snippets of ideas, I started scribbling furiously.  What follows is my ode to the Amuta, a series of one-line impressions from each selection.   Please read on . . .

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Home Port Festival: 54 Choreographers in 33 Concerts at the Jaffa Port

Posted on 11 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Choreographers Association

The choreographers of the Amuta in Jaffa for the Home Port Festival.  Photo by Dorit Talpaz.

The first hint that something big was happening in Israel’s concert dance scene was an e-mail from Yossi Berg and Oded Graf about their upcoming performance schedule.  One listing mysteriously said that the duo was presenting Heroes at the Jaffa port for a choreographers festival.  Choreographers festival?  In Jaffa?  Many dance festivals here are annual ones, and I didn’t remember anything like that from last year.

Next I started to see some Facebook events popping up, with choreographers including Hillel Kogan, Noa Dar, Shlomit Fundaminsky, and Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor inviting friends to attend performances at the port during March.   My curiosity grew as the number of choreographers involved increased.

Finally, Yasmeen Godder pulled me over before class one day and told me I should look into a very exciting, unprecedented event: the Home Port festival.  As I talked more with her and followed a few leads, I found out that this was, indeed, something big.

The Home Port festival was initiated by the Amuta (which translates as the Choreographers Association or the Choreographers Society), an umbrella organization for fifty-four independent choreographers who draw from styles as varied as contemporary dance, flamenco, and belly dance.  Working outside of the country’s larger companies, these established choreographers are responsible for much of Israel’s flourishing concert dance scene – and all of them will present their creations in thirty-three different concerts over the next four weeks in a hangar at Jaffa’s port.

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Machol Shalem: The Jerusalem Modern Dance Festival

Posted on 16 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili


A video about the Jerusalem Modern Dance Festival 2007

Tel Aviv may be the undisputed center of contemporary dance in Israel, but Jerusalem also boasts several dance companies, studios, and presenters as well as its own dance festival.  Now in its fourth year, Machol Shalem – also known as the Jerusalem Modern Dance Festival – will run from Wednesday, November 19 until Friday, November 21.  The festival opens on Wednesday with Nimrod Freed’s unique PEEPDance and continues with two mixed bills showcasing work by Israeli and African choreographers.  On Friday, the festival will finish with four hours of live dance and music at Jerusalem’s Havatzelet passage.

To get a sense of the festival, you can take a peek at the videos from 2007 (above) and 2006 (below – click on “Read the rest of this entry”); you’ll see snippets of backstage preparations, engaging performances, and happy audience members.  For more information, visit the Machol Shalem festival’s website, and check out Dance In Israel’s Events page for listings.

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