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Close Encounters Series: Yasmeen Godder

Posted on 03 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation will be performed in New Haven, CT as part of Yale University’s World Performance Project Festival on November 11-12. Photo by Tamar Lamm.  See our Events page for the listing.

Throughout my time in Israel, I have had the privilege of speaking with a number of choreographers and dancers about their art.  Here on Dance In Israel, I will be sharing these conversations with you in a series of “Close Encounters” articles and in a series of podcasted audio interviews.  This “Close Encounters” article on Yasmeen Godder was first published on The Winger in June of 2008.

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Yasmeen Godder. Photo by Natan Dvir.

If you’re part of the New York dance scene, you’ve probably stepped through some of the same doors as Yasmeen Godder. Born in Israel and raised in Jerusalem until age 11, Yasmeen moved to the U.S. with her family, attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York City, studied at Movement Research and the Klein School, and received her undergraduate degree from NYU’s Tisch School. The Kitchen, DTW, and Dancing in the Streets have all commissioned work from her, and she was awarded a Bessie in 2001 for I Feel Funny Today.

If you’re part of the Israeli dance scene, you’ve undoubtedly felt Yasmeen’s influence and quite possibly crossed paths with her. I had heard of Yasmeen prior to arriving in Israel because of her activities in the U.S. and the acclaim which has greeted her works both in the states and Europe, and as soon as I arrived in Israel, I began to realize the impact she has made in her home country. Her name frequently came up in conversations about both choreographers and teachers, and many people urged me to see her work and take her class. So it was that I ventured down to Yafo (Jaffa) to take technique at her studio, attended a performance there of Sudden Birds (see the video below), and went to a performance of I’m Mean, I Am at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

Months later, I’m not surprised that I heard so much buzz about Yasmeen. I found Yasmeen’s classes to be quite challenging and enormously helpful in their specificity, especially as I attempt to widen my body’s range and move with less muscular effort. She welcomes students’ reflections in class and presents her own ideas with clarity and details that enable me to adjust my mindset and body to a more unfamiliar technical framework.

I also found Yasmeen’s choreography to be as challenging as her classes, and refreshingly so. Continue Reading

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Visions of Dancing in Israel

Posted on 27 October 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili


An ad for the exhibit’s September 18th opening from the Israeli Consulate

It’s not only Israeli dance groups that perform in Israel.  With enthusiastic Israeli audiences at the ready, companies from around the world have made Israel a destination on their tours.  In a single month, the International Tel Aviv Dance Festival (Tel Aviv Dance 2008) will feature groups from Spain, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Slovenia, the U.K., the Netherlands, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Madagascar, and the United States.  Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet received a warm welcome this weekend when they opened the festival with works by Joe Stromgren, Crystal Pite, and Israel’s own Ohad Naharin; the dancers are now touring through the rest of the country.

Cedar Lake is not the only American dance company with strong ties to Israel and Israeli dance.  Based in Connecticut, Pilobolus commissioned Israeli choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak to create Rushes in 2007, and the company also performed in Israel last year. While on tour, Robert Whitman took a series of stunning photographs featuring Pilobolus’s trademark sculptural physicality against the backdrop of Israel’s natural treasures, ancient sites, and modern urban delights. These images are on display in New York City’s Chelsea Market (75 9th Avenue, between 15th and 16th Streets) from September 18 until October 31, 2008. I went to the opening event and wrote the post below for The Winger. Read on, and if you’re in New York City, rush over to Chelsea Market before the photographs come down!

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