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.