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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.

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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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Maholohet: SummerDance2009 at Suzanne Dellal Center

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Yoram Karmi and Uri Morag’s Man, Woman, Reflections will be performed during SummerDance

It seems like every country has its share of summer dance festivals, and Israel is no exception.  The country’s main concert dance festival, SummerDance (Maholohet in Hebrew) is already underway at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.  My preview of the festival, “Damn Hot,” was first published in the Jerusalem Post.

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Damn Hot

The Suzanne Dellal Center is turning up the heat with its Maholohet (Hot Dance) summer dance festival.  This year’s program boasts a full summer of sizzling performances, showcasing the best of Israeli dance.  From July 1 until August 29, hundreds of dancers will take the stage in 76 concerts.

Part of Maholohet‘s appeal is the appearance of so many preeminent companies.  The Batsheva, Inbal Pinto and Vertigo Dance Companies are each presenting multiple programs of critically acclaimed works.  Many popular smaller groups and up-and-coming independent choreographers are also heating up the program with their creative fires.

Raising the temperature further this summer are 11 hot-off-the-press premieres by choreographers as diverse as Yasmeen Godder, Alice Dor-Cohen, Ronit Ziv, Idan Cohen and Elina Pechersky.  Another much anticipated highlight is a special guest program with dancers from the famed Paris Opera Ballet.

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Inbal Pinto Dance Company: “Oyster” and “Shaker”

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

"Oyster" by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak

“Oyster” by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak.  Photo by Eyal Landesman.

I’ve already seen Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Oyster twice, but I leaped at the chance to see it again at the Suzanne Dellal Center last week.

This time around I brought my partner, Tal.  Tal never went to dance performances before meeting me, but in the last year, he’s been to his fair share of concerts.  Yet after Oyster, he did something he’d never done before: he leaned over and whispered mournfully in my ear, “Is that it?  It’s over?”

Like me, Tal fell in love with this magical work, and in doing so, he confirmed my suspicion that this is one of those few productions that nearly everyone – devoted dance lovers and novice viewers alike – should see.  Israeli audiences may need to wait a little while longer to watch Oyster again, but this week they can catch the company’s captivating performances of Shaker at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

The article below was first published in the Jerusalem Post as “Can’t Shake Oyster”

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Can’t Shake Oyster

It’s not every dance that can boast 10 years of consistently packed concerts.  But Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Oyster is one of these rare, beloved works.  Having surpassed the 400th performance mark earlier this year, Oyster is now celebrating its tenth anniversary with performances by the Inbal Pinto Dance Company at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

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International Exposure Sends Israeli Dance Around the World

Posted on 13 February 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

"Monger" by Barak Marshall

(Photo: Barak Marshall’s Monger has been invited to tour abroad.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.)

Ynet, the website for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, announced this week that International Exposure has already yielded invitations for several Israeli choreographers to travel abroad.  I’ve gleaned the following information from Ynet’s Hebrew article.

Barak Marshall’s production, Monger, proved to be a big hit among the visitors to International Exposure.  It will tour to Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, and Romania this spring.  The dance will later be shown at the Joyce Theater in New York and at the 2010 Dance Umbrella Festival in London.

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International Exposure 2008: Day 6

Posted on 25 January 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


(Video: Kolben Dance in Amir Kolben’s “Interface”)

What’s a visit to Israel without a journey to Jerusalem?  Today, attendees of the International Exposure Festival are making the one-hour trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Our visit will start with Kolben Dance Company’s performance of Amir Kolben’s Interface.  After a tour of the city, we’ll return to Tel Aviv for a farewell reception.  The festival closes with the Inbal Pinto Dance Company in Hydra by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak.  Hydra packed the theater when I saw it at the 2008 Israel Festival.   I’m guessing that though we might be tired after 6 days of dance watching, we’ll flock to the Suzanne Dellal theater one more time for this performance!

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