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Maholohet: SummerDance 2010 Heats Up at Suzanne Dellal

Posted on 29 June 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Batsheva Dancers Create

The Batsheva Dance Company’s dancers might have cooled off at the beach to make this video, but this July, they – and many of Israel’s finest dancers – will be heating up the Suzanne Dellal Center’s stages during SummerDance 2010.  The annual festival, called Maholohet in Hebrew (a play on the words for “dance” and “hot”), will take place from July 1-August 31 and boast 84 performances.

Nuevo Ballet Español.  Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

This year’s programming kicks off with a festival within the festival.  From July 1-10, Madrid Dance will showcase Spanish dance including the Antonio Najarro Dance Company, Nuevo Ballet Español, Sharon Friedman and Jesus Pastor, and Pastor and José Marino.  More international guests arrive later in the summer with dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet performing their own creations in Incidence Choreographique and with the Black Light Theatre from Prague in Africania.


Video: Rachel Erdos’s OU’ premieres at SummerDance 2010

As in previous years, premieres abound at SummerDance.  This year’s bounty, totaling 19 new works, will include premieres by Dana Ruttenberg, Kamea Dance Company, Tamar Borer and Tamara Erde, Portal Dance Company, DaNaKa Dance Group, Yoni Soutchy, Idan Sharabi, Ronit Ziv, Sigal Ziv, Elina Pechersky, Rena Schenfeld, Dafi Altebab, Mami Shimizaki, Sharon Vazanna, Anat Grigorio, the Jerusalem Ballet, and Rachel Erdos.  Sahar Azimi, Elad Shechter, and Ido Tadmor offer pre-premieres, and Yaniv Cohen’s work will be shown in its Israeli premiere.

Arkadi Zaides’s Quiet.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

For audiences who missed some of this year’s most intriguing premieres, SummerDance offers a second chance to check them out.  Among the offerings are Arkadi Zaides’s Quiet, which recently returned from a tour of Europe, as well as the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Rami Be’er’s Infrared, Fresco Dance Group in Yoram Karmi’s Particle Accelerator, Kamea Dance Group in Tamir Ginz’s SRUL, Kolben Dance Company in Min-Hara, and Animato Dance Company in Nadine Bommer’s American Cinema. Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Rushes Plus and Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Z/na 2010, both highlights of the last season, combine excerpts of older works in a strikingly new context. And Vertigo Dance Company presents not only its recent hit Mana but also White Noise and the now classic Birth of the Phoenix.

Batsheva Dancers Create.  Photo by Yoav Barel.

Several evenings pop out from the schedule with a mixture of interesting fare.  This year’s festival includes Batsheva Dancers Create, an annual workshop featuring two programs of Batsheva’s dancers in an array of their own choreography.  Another intriguing evening is Noa Dar’s presentation of her recent Anu alongside a work-in-progress, Banu, which is the extension of her previous creation.  And audiences will have a chance to sample a combination of choreographers when established artists host up-and-coming contemporary choreographer.  These programs include Dana Ruttenberg and Shlomit Fundaminsky hosting Neta Ruttenberg and Uri Shafir; Sahar Azimi hosting Elad Shechter and Yaniv Cohen; Dafi Altebab hosting Mami Shimizaki; and Idan Cohen hosting Sharon Vazanna.

Beta Dance Troupe in Meeka Yaari and Ruth Eshel’s Fathers and Sons. Photo by Ofer Zvulun.

SummerDance 2010 also features several companies and choreographers that add an ethnic flavor to the Israeli concert dance scene.  Beta Dance Troupe blends Ethiopian traditions with contemporary choreography in Meeka Yaari and Ruth Eshel’s Fathers and Sons as well as Adam McKinney and Daniel Banks’s What We are Saying. Rona Bar-On, Sigal Ziv, and Elina Pechersky bring belly dance to the stage, while COMPAS, Silvia Duran, and Tania Vinokur offer variations on flamenco.  Adding to the mix is Bangoura, an African dance company that will perform The dance of the drums.

Batsheva Ensemble in Ohad Naharin’s Kamuyot.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Want to attend a dance performance with your family?  Several family-friendly programs are dotting this year’s bill, including the Batsheva Ensemble in Ohad Naharin’s Kamuyot, Kamea Dance Group in Or Abuhav’s The Ugly Duckling, COMPAS in Carmen and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Noa Dar Dance Group in Children’s Games.

Rounding out the programming are several critically acclaimed works created in recent years, including Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation and Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s Four Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer, and evenings of work by independent choreographers including Iris Erez, Shlomi Frige, Maya Levy, Michael Miler, and Michal Herman.

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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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Remembering Big Performances at Suzanne Dellal’s Big Stage

Posted on 19 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Barak Marshall's "Monger"

Barak Marshall’s Monger.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

This summer has already been so packed with festivals and performances that I have barely had time to reflect, but I figured it’s high time that I post an article I wrote at the end of Suzanne Dellal’s Big Stage.

I’ve been to numerous festivals since moving to Israel, but the Big Stage stands head and shoulders above many others in my mind.  There was something magical about the festival’s outdoor setting, and each impressively large-scale performance brought its own theatrical marvels to the already enchanting space.  Further adding to my enthusiasm about the festival was the dual reason for its existence: Tel Aviv’s centennial and Suzanne Dellal’s 20th anniversary.  It’s pretty hard to top that!

I first published the article below as “Big Performances” in the Forward on June 19, 2009.  Read on to get a sense of what this spectacular festival was like – or to refresh your own memories of this momentous event.

* * *

Big Performances

An eager crowd took its seats high above the Suzanne Dellal Center’s plaza for the opening of the three-week festival Habama Hagdola — The Big Stage.  Two majestic palm trees framed the large outdoor stage, and the center’s main building provided a picturesque backdrop.  A glance around revealed the impressive scenery of the first century of Tel Aviv: quaint red-roofed homes of the Neve Tzedek neighborhood overtaken within a few blocks by modern skyscrapers.

But it was the action onstage that captured the audience’s gaze.  Rooted in a wide stance, five women grabbed their heads and raised their arms in exasperation.  Rocking vigorously in place, they performed a series of intricate gestures. Even the smallest motion — a lift of the hip, a tilt of the chin — was delivered with attitude.  The movement grew, the pace quickened, and the tension built as five men approached the women.

This nuanced, lively dance — Barak Marshall’s Monger — was only part of the excitement onstage.  The popular band Balkan Beat Box lent its infectious rhythms and hypnotic vocals to the choreographic excerpts.  As the dance and live music mixed, Marshall recounted, “the energy on the stage was explosive and surprising.”

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Tel Aviv’s 100th + Suzanne Dellal’s 20th = The Big Stage

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

The Big Stage at Suzanne Dellal

Photo of the Big Stage by Ariel Besor.

Something big is about to happen.  It’s the biggest cultural draw in town from May 14 until June 6th.  And fittingly, it’s titled Habama Hagdola: The Big Stage.

This isn’t the first time that the plaza of the Suzanne Dellal Center has been turned into a massive, open air theater.  The pictures in this post show a previous transformation from a few years ago.  But this time around, the construction of the Big Stage is marking something truly huge: the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv and the 20th anniversary of the Suzanne Dellal Center, Israel’s premiere center for dance.

To celebrate both of these occasions, the Big Stage (sometimes translated as the Great Stage) will present some of Israel’s top dance companies and musical groups as well as world-renowned troupes from abroad.  The opening night combines both art forms in a special performance by Balkan Beat Box, with excerpts from Barak Marshall’s “Monger” that are set to music by the popular Israeli band.  As part of the festivities, Yair Vardi, Suzanne Dellal’s director, will receive an award from the Foreign Ministry for his contribution to the field of Israeli dance.

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