Tag Archive | "Gvanim"

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No Ballet and Lots of Israeli Dance

Posted on 12 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Sisters by Michal Hersonski and Shira Ben Zeev.  Photo by Günter Krämmer.

Ballet is verboten at the No Ballet competition in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and applicants are encouraged to present innovative, adventurous choreography that speaks to the future rather than to traditional aesthetic sensibilities.  So it’s no wonder that Israel, with its growing field of contemporary dance, contributed a record six participants to this year’s select pool of competitors: Dafi Altbeb, Tami & Ronen Yitzhaki, Nadar Rosano, Reut Shemesh, Nadine Bommer, and Michal Hersonski & Shira Ben Zeev.

Michal Hersonski and Shira Ben Zeev

Michal Hersonski and Shira Ben Zeev. Photo courtesy of the choreographers.

It is a tribute to the strength of Israeli contemporary dance that two of these entries walked away with awards from this prestigious festival in October.  Michal Hersonski and Shira Ben Zeev were marked as exciting emerging choreographers when their duet, Sisters, debuted as part of Israel’s biennial Gvanim (Shades of Dance) Festival in 2007.  Now, though, the pair has clearly arrived: Sisters took third place on the international stage at No Ballet.  “We were thrilled to get the third prize because there were many countries, and there were good groups with very interesting and intelligent works,” Michal reflects.  “It was a very nice surprise for us.”


Manimation by Nadine Bommer. Photo by Günter Krämmer.

Meanwhile, Nadine Bommer’s clevely comedic Manimation captured the hearts of No Ballet’s audience, who honored the work with the crowd favorite prize.

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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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“Then and Now” Brings Old and New Together at Shades of Dance

Posted on 22 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Then: Ronit Ziv’s Rose Can’t Wait, from the 1999 Shades of Dance Festival

On my way home from “Then and Now,” a special opening program of the Shades of Dance (Gvanim) festival, J.S. Bach’s Air on the G String played on my iPod.  Immediately, images from a black-and-white film of choreographer Doris Humphrey’s Air for the G String flashed through my mind. Humphrey’s dance has not only been immortalized on film but stayed alive in reconstructions from Labanotation score; it’s a powerful reminder that choreography doesn’t need to be shelved a few years or even many decades after its premiere.

This was an appropriate vision after a concert which not only celebrated the new but paid tribute to the old.  Opening a festival devoted to emerging choreographers, “Then and Now” featured excerpts of four dances which, in the days when the festival doubled as a competition, won the coveted first prize.  Selections from Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror’s Two-Room Apartment (1987), Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al’s Vertigo (1992), Barak Marshall’s Aunt Leah (1995), and Ronit Ziv’s Rose Can’t Wait (1999) shared the stage with excerpts from the choreographers’ latest dances.

These works were met with an extremely warm reception, and I’m sure that the choreographers’ own performances contributed to the excitement.  The prolonged unison and matter-of-fact manners of Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror, the high-speed actions and reactions of Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al, and the daring physicality of Ronit Ziv and fellow dancer Noa Rosenthal were riveting to watch – especially because, in the case of Nir & Liat and Noa & Adi, these choreographers no longer perform on a regular basis. (( Barak Marshall, who is now based part-time in L.A., was not in Israel for this performance. ))

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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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