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Suzanne Dellal Center Wins the Israel Prize in Dance

Posted on 06 March 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

On my first full day in Israel nearly two and a half years ago, I made a pilgrimage to the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Although I didn’t yet grasp the scope of the complex’s activities, I had heard that this was the epicenter of the Israeli contemporary dance scene, and that was enough to make me wander through the maze of Neve Tzedek’s streets until I finally found the right spot.

Throughout my first year of research, as I attended scores of performances and classes at Suzanne Dellal, my admiration and appreciation of the center only grew.  And now, as I visit the center daily, I am no less astonished by the activity it supports.  Classes, rehearsals, performances, and festivals keep the studios and theaters of Suzanne Dellal busy from nine in the morning to late at night, year-round.  Indeed, the numbers published by the center are remarkable: each year, the Suzanne Dellal Center boasts an astonishing 600+ performances and welcomes approximately  500,000 visitors. And since its establishment in 1989, the center has presented over 1,200 premieres – most of which are dances.

Throughout 2009, festivals and photographic exhibitions celebrated the Suzanne Dellal Center’s twentieth anniversary, calling attention to the center’s extraordinary contribution to the field of dance in Israel.  Although it’s now 2010, the celebration of the center’s activities is continuing: on February 23, Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar announced that the Suzanne Dellal Center would be awarded the Israel Prize, one of this country’s highest honors.

Chaired by Dr. Hadassah Shani, the selection committee commended the center.  “In its 20 years of activity, the Suzanne Dellal Center has caused dance in Israel to take off,” they acknowledged. “The many and varied artistic endeavors of the center have spawned a new generation of artists, creators and performers, in the arena of artistic dance. Creative excellence on the center’s stage has broadened, and continues to broaden, the circle of dance lovers [in Israel].  The center’s activities opened the gates of the world’s most important dance to the Israeli dance scene and made it possible for Israel’s artistic dance to make its stamp in the international arena.  This is a prize for initiators and supporters of the vision that became reality.”

The Minister of Culture and Sports, Limor Livnat, added, “The Suzanne Dellal Center is one of the most fascinating and unique centers in the field of dance in the entire world. In the 20 years since its founding, the center, under the direction of Yair Vardi, has turned into a center of pilgrimage for creators and dancers from the country and from the world.  The Suzanne Dellal Center brings us much pride, and the bestowing of the Israel Prize expresses the great appreciation that we have for the center and for Yair Vardi.”

The Israel Prize will be given to the Suzanne Dellal Center by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin, President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, and Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar.  The award ceremony will be held at the Jerusalem Theatre on April 20th, Israel’s Independence Day, and will be broadcast live on Channel 1.

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