As mid-May turns into late May here in Israel, spring is in full bloom. The sun is now everpresent, no longer occasionally blocked by clouds, and the days grow hotter. Rain showers are replaced by trickles of tourist groups, portending the forthcoming wave of summer visitors. And in Jerusalem, the Israel Festival opens, providing the season’s freshest programming in theater, music, and dance.
The Israel Festival traditionally mixes some of the top names from the international arts scene with local favorites, and this year is no exception. The 2010 dance line-up promises a particularly diverse array of renowned artists hailing from around the world. Tangokinesis, based in Buenos Aires, brings a tantalizing mix of Argentinean tango and modern dance to Nuevo Tango. Shen Wei Dance Arts will arrive in Jerusalem from its home in New York, but the Chinese-born Wei’s style is infused with elements of Chinese opera, and his work Re is colored by his travels in Tibet, Cambodia, and China. British choreographer Akram Khan is known for blending Indian kathak dance with more modern movement, and his Gnosis is inspired by the Hindu Mahabharata. And the masterful Bill T. Jones will take on American history in Serenade/The Proposition, which incorporates striking video art along with the choreographer’s signature contemporary vocabulary.
Video: Bill T. Jones’s Serenade/The Proposition
Joining these visiting troupes on the festival’s stage is a hometown favorite, Vertigo Dance Company, which maintains a studio in Jerusalem as well as an innovative Eco-Art Village on nearby Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey. Vertigo will kick off the festival with two free shows of Noa Wertheim’s landmark environmental work, Birth of the Phoenix, before performing Wertheim’s White Noise and her most recent dance, Mana.
Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.
The 2010 Israel Festival runs from May 25 until June 11.
Although Israel is best known for contemporary dance, Israeli audiences seem to have an insatiable appetite for flamenco. Besides boasting several thriving local flamenco companies and an annual flamenco festival and competition, the country has hosted some of the world’s most prominent flamenco troupes in performances that draw large, enthusiastic crowds. Now, after two previous successful visits to Israel, the legendary Antonio Márquez is returning with his company to satiate Israelis’ hunger for top-notch Spanish dance. “The Israeli audience embraced us on our previous visits and we would like to return a warm embrace,” explains Márquez.
Born in 1963 in Seville, Márquez studied flamenco with Antonio Ruiz Soler, a leading dancer of his day, and joined the renowned National Ballet of Spain in 1982. Márquez’s phenomenal technique and dramatic stage presence made him a star with the company and a popular guest artist in other preeminent companies and international galas. As a performer, he received coveted awards including the Nureyev Prize, and in 1998, he was named Spain’s Most Esteemed Professional Dancer.
CompañiaAntonio Márquez. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.
In 1995, the virtuoso dancer founded Compañia Antonio Márquez. With Márquez and a roster of talented dancers enlivening captivating, colorful productions, the Madrid-based company has garnered critical acclaim and won a popular following in both national and international tours. For its third trip to Israel, Compañia Antonio Márquez will be the guest of honor of the international dance series at the Herzliya Center for the Performing Arts from January 13-16 before touring to Haifa, Rishon Lezion, and Jerusalem.
CompañiaAntonio Márquez. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.
Márquez has planned an enticing double-bill for his troupe’s Israeli performances. Set to Maurice Ravel’s rousing score, Bolero highlights Márquez’s penchant for combining classical flamenco technique with strikingly contemporary choreography. Positioned center stage in a spotlight, every fiber of Márquez’s body exudes power and passion; bursts of lightning-fast footwork are juxtaposed with slow head rolls, subtly expressive isolations, and the gloriously smooth unfurling of his muscled arms. As the music builds, so too does the action with the ensemble. Márquez smartly moves the dancers around the stage in striking formations, sometimes punctuating a strong unison section with an eye-catching canon. All the while, the group entrances with their proud carriage, mesmerizing arm motions, and percussive, rhythmic steps.
CompañiaAntonio Márquez. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.
Besides Bolero, Márquez has prepared Flamenco Celebration especially for this tour. Danced to stirring guitar and vocal music, this vibrant group work hews more closely to traditional notions of flamenco dance. Women in tiered ruffled dresses and swirling fringed scarves sweep elegantly through the space, while men in smart suits show off their impeccable high-speed footwork. Sometimes the group surrounds a soloist, clapping, stomping, and gesturing to accentuate the lead dancer’s dazzling movement and impassioned performance. Here too, Márquez electrifies with his brilliant technique and commanding, expressive presence. With such a superb flamenco dancer at the helm, and with an exciting cast of outstanding dancers in well-crafted, compelling choreography, Compañia Antonio Márquez’s concerts are themselves cause for celebration.
Compañia Antonio Márquez performs at the Herzliya Center for the Performing Arts from January 13-16 at 9:00 p.m. Tickets (269-299 NIS) are available at 1-700-70-29-29. Additional performances are at the Haifa Auditorium (January 17, 8:30 p.m. 04-8418411), Rishon Lezion’s Heichal Hatarbut (January 18, 8:30 p.m., 03-9666141), and the Sherover Theater in Jerusalem (January 20, 8:30 p.m., 02-6237000).
Posted on 27 December 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili
Video: Trailer for Less Mess, a collaboration between Ruby Edelman, Sascha Engel, and Christina Gehrig Binder
Just as the dance scene has quieted down a bit in Tel Aviv after a series of festivals, the growing Jerusalem scene is heating up with Machol Shalem’s SHALEM festival 2009. Unlike most of the festivals which took place here in Tel Aviv, SHALEM features not only concerts but classes, such as Ronen Itzhaki’s workshop for men and Claudia Hauri’s workshop for dancers and actors, cleverly titled “Don’t try it at home.” This year’s programming runs in Jerusalem from 29-31, and Tel Aviv audiences can see some of the festival’s offerings when they come to the Opera House’s rehearsal room on January 1-2.
To get the scoop on SHALEM 2009 and its parent organization Machol Shalem, I talked to Ruby Edelman, who co-directs the festival along with his partner Idel. The article below was first published in the Jerusalem Post as “Daring Dance in Jerusalem.”
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Daring Dance in Jerusalem
“It’s a whole different playground,” Ruby Edelman says of Jerusalem’s dance scene. Tel Aviv is typically recognized as the hot spot for concert dance in Israel but Edelman and his partner Ofra Idel are injecting new energy into Jerusalem’s fledgling scene with Machol Shalem.
Edelman recalls, “The initiation of Machol Shalem started in 2002, [with] me and some other independent dancemakers in Jerusalem who were looking for a place to continue [our] creation.” Initially, the organizers invited young choreographers to present their work on a single evening and each year, the group’s activities expanded. Eventually they founded a multi-day festival called SHALEM – The Jerusalem Dance Festival and established a home base with a studio in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood.
Or Marin’s Origami. Photo by Ascaf.
Now, with three days of inventive workshops and cutting-edge performances by both Israeli and foreign artists, SHALEM is easily one of Israel’s most adventurous dance festivals. SHALEM’s progressive programming flies in the face of conservative stereotypes that characterize both Jerusalem itself and the city’s arts scene. Indeed, Edelman affirms that the festival’s mission is “to present an alternative channel to what modern, contemporary, independent dance can be at this time . . . to search for things which are not obvious and which present variations of what dance can be about.”
Running from December 29-31, SHALEM 2009 advances this search for bold, experimental approaches to dance with what Edelman calls an emphasis on “unique, fresh collaborations of new dance and new media.” Efrat Rubin joins forces with animation artist Osnat Wald to create her latest work, Yom (Day). Meanwhile, Copenhagen-based Israeli choreographer Esther Wrobel performs while hanging on a rope against the backdrop of Marlene Nielson’s video projections in CRUST. Even Splash, a work for young audiences by Australian-born, Jerusalem-based choreographer Joel Bray, includes an interactive video along with live dance.
Less Mess by Ruby Edelman, Sascha Engel, and Christina Gehrig Binder. Photo by Christian Glaus.
Video and an exploratory spirit also play a prominent part in Edelman’s work, a co-production of Machol Shalem and Tanzhaus Zurich with Swiss dancemaker Christina Gehrig Binder and German filmmaker and choreographer Sascha Engel as creative collaborators. The trio, graduates of the Rotterdam Dance Academy and frequent artistic partners, embarked on a road trip throughout Israel that was filmed by Seffy Hirsch. Then the three choreographers built a series of duets based on their experiences during this journey. The resulting work, called Less Mess, includes clips of the video as reference points.
Technology plays an even more active role during the performances of a few innovative works to be showcased in SHALEM 2009. During Or Marin’s new Origami, a real-time recording of the work will be projected while the dancers perform. Berlin-based choreographer Efrat Stempler is also working with real-time recording and projection in her evening-length Shu Shu. In this trio, the dancers are outfitted with miniature surveillance cameras that monitor the other performers and expose them by screening images in all directions throughout the space.
SHALEM 2009 also features Entr’acte, a duet by Holland’s dance theater cabaret group Gato Bizar that was a previous success in the festival. The shows are rounded out with excerpts from the Jerusalem-based Kolben Dance Company’s latest production, Amir Kolben’s Min-hara, and a new solo by former Kolben dancer Evelin Ifrach.
Entr’acte by Gato Bizar. Photo by Maarten Eiland.
While SHALEM’s exciting programming should be enough to attract crowds from outside Jerusalem into the city, the festival is also catering to Tel Aviv’s committed dance audience by bringing both Less Mess and Shu Shu to the Opera House’s rehearsal room from January 1-2. Machol Shalem’s purpose may be to strengthen dance in Jerusalem, but with its daring curatorial vision, it is enriching the entire country’s cultural scene.
SHALEM’s performances run from December 29-31 at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem and from January 1-2 at the Opera House in Tel Aviv. Tickets are available at www.bimot.co.il or 02-6237999.
Video: LINES Ballet in Alonzo King’s Rasa, whichwill be part of the Israel Festival.
Spring festival fever has hit Israel. The Big Stage Festival is in full swing at Suzanne Dellal in Tel Aviv. There’s many Shavuot festivals planned around the country, and several of them focus on dance and movement. And from May 24th to June 11th, the Israel Festival will bring world-renowned performing artists in all disciplines to Jerusalem.
The Israel Festival has been a mainstay of the spring festival season since its founding in 1961, though its character has evolved over time. From its roots as a music festival in Caesarea, the event expanded to include theater and dance. The Israel Festival moved most of its performances to Jerusalem in 1982, and it remains there today.
Although it bears this country’s name, the Israel Festival is truly an international event showcasing high-quality art from both in and out of Israel. A quick survey of this year’s dance offerings alone yields four different countries from three different continents (and that’s besides Israel!).
You would have thought that to meet Paul Gordon Emerson, the director of the Washington D.C. based CityDance Ensemble, I would have taken a train from New Jersey (my home state) to the capital of the U.S. while I was still living there. But instead I grabbed a bus to Jerusalem a few nights ago.
Let’s backtrack: Paul’s interest in reviving older modern dance masterpieces and my research on these works first brought us together online nearly six years ago. We’ve kept up our correspondence over the years, reconnecting this fall when CityDance staged Sophie Maslow’s Folksay from Labanotation score (this was doubly exciting for me: my undergraduate thesis on Jewish-American choreographers highlighted Maslow’s career, and I studied Labanotation intensively in graduate school). Yet we never met face to face – until now.
CityDance is currently touring the Middle East, and as part of the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival – which features companies from around the world performing both in the West Bank and in Israel – the company had concerts in Jerusalem and Nazareth this week. Since the Tel Aviv is only an hour away from Jerusalem, I jumped at the chance to see the company and hopped on a bus.