Tag Archive | "Inbal Dance Theater"

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Celebration in Pictures: Anna Sokolow Centennial at the Dance Library of Israel

Posted on 11 February 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

The flyer for the Anna Sokolow centennial exhibition in Tel Aviv. Courtesy Henia Rottenberg.

Attention dance history fans: this year is the centennial of choreographer Anna Sokolow’s birth, and her artistic achievements are being commemorated around the world, including in Israel.  In this guest article, Hannah Kosstrin, who recently visited Tel Aviv to research Sokolow’s work here, reflects on Sokolow’s influence on dance in Israel and highlights upcoming centennial celebrations.

Celebration in Pictures: Anna Sokolow Centennial at the Dance Library of Israel

By Hannah Kosstrin

A new exhibit at the Dance Library of Israel celebrates the life and work of Anna Sokolow (1910-2000), whose centennial is celebrated this month.  Sokolow, an American-born Jewish choreographer who worked internationally and considered Israel her second home, carved out a space for herself in the Israeli dance landscape.  She first came to Tel Aviv in 1953 on the recommendation of Jerome Robbins and with the support of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, where she worked with Sara Levi-Tanai and Inbal Yemenite Dance Group (Inbal Dance Theatre).  In the early 1960s, she established her Lyric Theatre.  This company was active for months out of each year, and toured cities and kibbutzim throughout Israel.  Later, she choreographed for Israeli companies including Batsheva Dance Company, Bat-Dor Dance Company, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Chamber Theatre, Springboard Dance Company, and Habima.  Her work touched many dancers and teachers who remain prominent in dance in Israel, including Paul Bloom, Galia Gat, Rena Gluck, Yaron Margolin, Moshe Romano, and Rena Schenfeld, and Ze’eva Cohen and Margalit Oved, who work in the United States.

With the Lyric Theatre (1962-1964), Sokolow continued to develop her performance form that she termed lyric theater, a combination of dancing and acting that blurred the lines between disciplines and created works wherein performers drew from both movement and acting bodies of knowledge.  Such works include Rooms and Dreams, originally created in the U.S. and then performed by the Lyric Theatre, and Forms and Poem, for which Sokolow worked closely with Israeli dancers to mount.  Sokolow was concerned foremost with truth in movement and with honesty in dancers’ performance. Using elements of the Stanislavsky Method that she garnered through a trip to Russia in 1934 and work with Elia Kazan and the Actors Studio in New York through the 1950s, Sokolow drew from performers’ own experiences to craft their characters within the context of each work.  Sokolow trained in Martha Graham’s technique through her work with that company during the 1930s.  Many of Sokolow’s dances from the 1930s-1940s show a strong Graham influence in her own movement via initiations by torso contractions and spirals through the back.  Sokolow’s dances from the 1950s onward, however, feature pieces crafted from movement and gestures found in daily life, from running to grasping hands to slamming against a wall.  Her work also presents quieter, vulnerable moments with arched backs and reaching arms, all while retaining the immediacy of movement coming from the “gut.”

Sokolow is known for making dances of social comment, and for reflecting humanity in the most inhumane of situations.  Dreams (1961), an evening-length group work, contains vignettes of harrowing concentration camp scenes leading to a dignified and wrongful death, while In Memory Of…543246 (1973), a solo for Rena Schenfeld, is a portrait of a Holocaust victim.  And the Disciples Departed (1967), a collaborative work with director Thomas J. Knott for American television, comments on the Vietnam war, racism in the U.S., and the rape of Kitty Genovese.  Rooms (1955), Sokolow’s landmark piece that cemented her place as a canonical concert dance choreographer, exposes loneliness, urban alienation, and unrequited desire.  The work is set against Kenyon Hopkins’ jazz score that alternates between driving adrenaline and stark atonal punctuations.  Earlier, in the 1940s, Sokolow made dances with Jewish themes and about Biblical heroines to stand in solidarity with Jews worldwide during the Holocaust.  The most well-known of these dances is Kaddish (1945), a memorial for Holocaust victims in which Sokolow defied contemporary gender conventions by laying tefillin around her arm.  Sokolow kept her Jewish identity at the core of all of her work, and her time in Israel fed and reinforced this connection.

The exhibit at the Dance Library of Israel commemorates Sokolow’s career through photographs and other ephemera, and it runs through September 2010.  The Dance Library of Israel is located at Beit Ariela, 25 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard in Tel Aviv.  More information is on the Beit Ariela library’s blog.

For information about Sokolow Centennial celebrations outside of Israel, please visit:

Hannah Kosstrin is a Ph.D. Candidate in Dance Studies at The Ohio State University (OSU). Her dissertation project focuses on Anna Sokolow’s work from 1927-1961. It is supported by the OSU Melton Center for Jewish Studies, the P.E.O. International Sisterhood, and the OSU Department of Women’s Studies Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Graduate Studies Grant for Research on Women, Gender, and Gender Equity. She has performed, choreographed, and taught in Boston, MA and Columbus, OH, U.S.A.

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Interview with Barak Marshall: Dancing between Israel and America (Podcast) (Part 1)

Posted on 05 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Download the podcast (You can right-click the link and press “save as” to download the file to your computer.)

Barak Marshall in "Aunt Leah"

Barak Marshall in Aunt Leah.  Photo courtesy of Barak Marshall.

(You can subscribe to this podcast using the iTunes software by clicking this link to the podcast feed.)

When we sat down to talk in January 2009, I discovered that a conversation with Barak Marshall is very similar to his choreography: fast-paced, peppered with diverse cultural references, and chock-full of attention-grabbing details. These qualities had captured my eye when I saw the premiere of Monger, and when I saw a rare restaging of Barak’s first work, Aunt Leah, I realized these were hallmarks of his craft since the day he stepped into the studio.

As we cafe-hopped in bustling central Tel Aviv during a Friday afternoon, Barak and I delved into a deep, lively discussion covering both his own choreography and the larger context of contemporary dance.  Join us for the first part of our interview as Barak talks about his background, his connection to Inbal Dance Theater and Yemenite dance, and the trajectory of his early career from the making of Aunt Leah to his appointment as the house choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company in 1999.  Barak, who splits his time between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, also reflects on the development of Israeli contemporary dance and differences between the dance scenes in Israel and the U.S. Continue Reading

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Kesem Shel Agada (Children’s Fairytale Festival) at Suzanne Dellal

Posted on 16 August 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Elephants Don't Dance

Elephants Don’t Dance Ballet.  Photo by Ariel Beshor.

I’ve received some requests throughout the year for recommendations about dance performances that are designed for children.  Sometimes I’m able to suggest a work by one of the many top-notch companies and choreographers who occasionally present works aimed at the whole family (some notables: Batsheva Dance Company, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Noa Dar, and Anat Danieli).

Now, though, there’s an entire festival for children at the Suzanne Dellal Center – and many of the offerings are dance-based.  From August 17-21, the Kesem Shel Agada festival will feature a series of performances and events that are fun for the entire family.  Read on to find out about some highlights!

This article was originally published as “A Magical End to the Summer” in the Jerusalem Post.

* * *

A Magical End to the Summer

As the summer draws to a close, some parents may think they have exhausted their options for keeping their children entertained.  But Michal Mor-Haim, producer of Kesem Shel Agada (the Children’s Fairytale Festival) has a suggestion for weary parents: “From August 17-20, from 4:30 from 9:00 in the evening, when you don’t know what to do with the children, you can come to Suzanne Dellal and have fun.”

With generous support from the Suzanne Dellal Center, the arts and culture branch of the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and the Yaron Yerushalmi family, Kesem Shel Agada has grown into a beloved end-of-summer tradition.  Mor-Haim notes,”People tell me, ‘We used to come with our children; now we are coming with our grandchildren.'”

Now in its 19th year, Kesem Shel Agada boasts four days of programming which wondrously transform the Suzanne Dellal Center into an artistic playground for children.  Mor-Haim elaborates,”When you come to Suzanne Dellal [for this festival], it’s something else.  You come to see a show in the hall, and then you get out and you can see a lot of things outside, because we have creative workshop, outdoor performances and even a gymboree.”

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