Tag Archive | "KCDC"

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The View from Here

Posted on 11 March 2012 by Deborah Friedes Galili

George Staib on the banks of the Jordan River.

This is a guest post by George Staib.

It was late in the spring of 2011 when I found myself on the banks of the Jordan River, discussing dance with an Israeli friend of mine, with whom I had shared a stage in Atlanta, GA. The new environment, the reconnection, and the gentle vigor of the words flowed as effortlessly as the river itself. Marked with a bit of sadness, that moment encapsulated my Tel Aviv dance experience, which was coming to a close. It was my intention to be submerged in a dance community that shouted boldly and succinctly from across an ocean, which I did. I did this for five weeks, met open arms, and have been changed forever.

My fascination with Israeli modern dance crept up on me. It was a performance of Deca Dance by the New York based company, Cedar Lake, which drew my attention to Israel, namely to Ohad Naharin. Prior, my wife had seen Naharin’s Mamootot, and though I had no first-hand experience of the work, her words were vivid, and I sat transfixed listening to the account she had given of Batsheva’s performance in Brooklyn. With the wonders of YouTube, I found that the images that presented themselves on my screen were varied, distinct, chilling, and captivating. I fell into an abyss of curiosity, admiration, and overwhelming addiction to what I was seeing. Modern dance, to me, had been reinvented. Rather it returned to what I believe its original intention was: communication.

The people I encountered on a daily basis, either through Iris Erez’s classes, Gaga classes, or contact workshops seemed to be fundamentally driven by the need/desire/want to communicate.; to share an experience in all its open-ended glory, in all its universality. The artists’ experience became my experience, and within each class I found myself being asked to show what I was feeling, reveal what I was sensing, and to not be shy. If ever a phrase resonated with profound impact, it would be that one. Don’t be shy. It was my mantra in Tel Aviv and was affirmed with each new acquaintance and friend asking me to do the same. There was a liberation of the dancer I had tucked away, and a re-introduction to the self. All through movement; all through communication.

Countless articles have been written on the power of Gaga and while I found my sentiments echoed those of other enthusiasts, what was not as easy to discover was what Israelis thought of their own adaptations of modern dance. Many friends I made in Tel Aviv seemed genuinely shocked that I would choose Israel to focus my attention on dance. Many were awestruck that Israel was creating a frenzy in the United States, and all smiled politely with a sense of humility that is rare. I witnessed that there was no shyness on stage, no apologetic movement, no need to move away from movement. Movement was the vehicle, and while many dance-makers in the U.S. seem to use movement as a decoration for text, Israelis use movement to take the place of words that could never be as powerful as an honest gesture, a sincere dance.

Within the countless performances I took in while in Tel Aviv, from Batsheva, to Yasmeen Godder, to Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, to KCDC, to Iris Erez, and many, many others, I saw no need to qualify, no need to have all the answers and certainly no shyness. I marveled at the thoughtfulness of the work, the remarkable skill of the dancers (be they released, Gaga-ed, or other;) and the undeniable connection to the audience. The communications, the exchanges, were worth more than gold. I felt like part of the experience and at the same time, was a spectator. I loved not having all the answers and being invited to make my own answers to the mysterious questions being asked on stage. The open-ended communication and dancer-to-audience dialogue continued long after the curtain closed.

The landscape of dance in Israel is broad and rich and lives in a culture that must continuously endure threats and instability. Thankfully, beauty hasn’t suffered. The warmth of those offering their homes, the generosity of the teachers, the inclination towards communication, and the pretention-free, forward-thinking artists I encountered, never allowed complacency to enter their studios, their dances, their lives. I recognized that what some might perceive as forward momentum is actually a by-product of the way life is led in Israel. There is continuous celebration; there is reverence for the past. Tel Aviv moves forward by stating its presence, by boldly commanding an art form through the form. Dances in Israel really dance. They speak louder than words and rely upon movement to tell a story. Actors act, painters paint, and in Israel, choreographers choreograph, and dancers dance. They move with the impetus of sublime images, they create with an awareness of those who will watch, and they unknowingly made me feel like a citizen of a community that communicates.

George Staib’s Name Day. Photograph by Dustin Chambers.

George Staib, through the generosity of Emory University, spent five weeks in Tel Aviv studying Gaga and being an enthusiastic audience member at Suzanne Dellal. He is the artistic director of Staibdance and is a dance teacher at Emory University, in Atlanta, GA. He looks forward to a return visit to Tel Aviv in June, 2012.

You can see George’s blog, maintained while in Tel Aviv, at the following address: movingtowardshome.wordpress.com

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Dancing in Israel: Summer Workshops

Posted on 24 April 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Sheetal Gandhi’s students at Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2009. Photo by Tully Chen.

When I first came to Israel to research dance in 2007, I occasionally crossed paths in open classes with other dancers from abroad.  While local studios have always welcomed dancers from around the world, increasingly, short-term seasonal workshops are geared towards an international population of students.  Thinking about expanding your horizons by training in Israel?  Here are a few programs to keep on your radar.

Video: KCDC’s International Summer Program

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC) has launched an international summer dance program for dancers age 15-20. Taught by directors and dancers of both the main company and its junior ensemble as well as guest teachers, this program’s offerings include ballet and modern technique, strengthening sessions, and classes in the repertory of KCDC’s artistic director Rami Be’er. Participants live in guest houses on Kibbutz Ga’aton, home to the company and the Galilee Dance Village, and besides enjoying their stay on the kibbutz, the dancers enrich their experience abroad with weekend trips to other locations in Israel.

KCDC’s 2011 program is scheduled for July 7-21, and more information can be found on the company’s website.

Dancers at the Gaga Intensive Summer Course. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Since its inception in 2008, the Gaga Intensive has grown in size and popularity. Taught by Ohad Naharin and members of the Batsheva Dance Company, the two-week workshop includes Gaga/dancers classes, repertory classes focusing on Naharin’s choreography, and methodics classes, sessions which enable dancers to more deeply research key concepts. The course is open to professional dancers and dance students age 18 and up, and classes are held at Batsheva’s studios at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv.

The 2011 Gaga Intensive Summer Course is already full, but you can stay tuned to the Gaga website for updates about future workshops.

Video: Bridge Choreographic Dialogues 2009

Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues began as a program linking dance artists in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, but it has grown into a broader endeavor with an increasingly diverse international faculty and student body.  Held at the Suzanne Dellal Centre under the artistic direction of Barak Marshall, the two-week program is open to dancers age 20 and up who have at least three years of professional experience.  While the exact offerings depend on the program’s faculty, Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues usually features classes in ballet, modern dance, and contemporary repertory as well as choreographic workshops.

The 2011 Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues will be held from July 31-August 12.  More information can be found on Suzanne Dellal’s website and the workshop’s website.  

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Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Rami Be’er’s “InfraRed”

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: KCDC in Rami Be’er’s Infrared

Another guest at International Exposure 2009, Talia Baruch, covers the San Francisco-area dance scene for her blog GoSee– Dance. She wrote some reviews of dances she saw here in Israel in December for her website and is generously sharing them here on Dance In Israel.

Talia’s first guest article is about Rami Be’er’s InfraRed, which was mentioned in my last post about the festival.  Read on to learn more about this work, Be’er, and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

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International Exposure 2009—Suzanne Dellal Dance Center | KCDC

By Talia Baruch


Choreography, Stage Design, Lighting Design: Rami Be’er | Costume Design: Maor Tzabar | Sound Design: Alex Claude | Still photography: Gadi Dagon | Review & Copywriting: Talia Baruch

A black garden is revealed.
An invisible world is unveiled through infrared light spectrum.
Black bodies expose colors.


Lyrics and music: Rami Be’er
Translated from Hebrew: Talia Baruch

In the black garden
Red soldier—watch
Blue soldier—warn
Yellow soldier—shoot all
(Back to. The wall.)

In the black garden
Red soldier—respond
Blue soldier—drop
Yellow soldier—yell
(Get used to hell)

In the black garden
Red soldier—reply
Blue soldier—hush
Yellow soldier—weep
(In the shit. Deep)

In the black garden
Red soldier—gape
Blue soldier—loll
Yellow soldier—hallucinate
(Feel the pain, mate?)

In the black garden…
A soldier stares
A soldier strays
A soldier errs

Rami Be’er’s InfraRed. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

A deep voice delivers the weight of “In the Black Garden” to the taps of a black platoon.  They open the show and they’ll also close it, but not just yet.   We’re still in for a journey, exploring the tumbles of our human condition, sinking deep into its weaknesses, aspiring to new heights through time and space.

Music is at the forefront of Be’er’s dance compositions.  He writes the lyrics & tunes, mixes the electronic sound effects and plays the cello pieces. The opening scene carries you over to another planet, both locally familiar and exotically estranged.  A wind storm echoes. Soft oasis waves flutter, lulling you into the Sahara mood, a blazing desert sweeping in like a yellow sea.

The drama sets off with bodies, humans and creatures, pacing through.  I quake in my seat, feeling a sudden urge to stretch right out of my spine, when the four-legged creature enters.  You know she’s coming out when you hear the slow somber score greeting her cue, like in Peter & the Wolf.  Her long black hair glides down to the floor, heavy, with every stretch of muscle elongating her back and limbs, like a preying tiger, graceful and ready to pounce.  Her movement is from another dimension, arching, curving, hands turned backward, magnetized to the floor.  She shifts back and forth, stretching like sticky gum out of its glued grip.

Rami Be’er’s InfraRed. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Another twitching image is the cocoon, tightly swaddled: legs breaking out of colored paper wrap, muffling.
Soundtrack creaks:
-..I can’t dance it anymore
’cause my feet don’t touch the floor…-

The framework image for this dance is a board game.  And on it players make their moves.  They represent the three core colors: red, blue and yellow. Then there’s black, absorbing all colors, and white, their void.

Be’er was inspired by Sergeant Pepper’s album cover and commissioned the costume to reflect that 19th-century-European-soldier-uniform look, with the long flap buttoned apparel, set in the three foundation colors.  Like players on a check board, the dancers move through space in forward/backward horizontal/vertical taps, at times restrained within the confinements of red, blue and yellow squares laid out on the platform.

About KCDC–Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company

KCDC was founded in 1970 by Yehudit Arnon, who directed it through 1996, as an extension of the Ga’aton Repertoire Dance group.  Today the company’s work is identified by the compositions of its Artistic Director—Rami Be’er, who also runs KCDC 2, the young company.

KCDC simultaneously holds 5-6 different dance productions and tours globally.

About Rami Be’er

Rami Be’er was born and raised on Kibbutz Ga’aton in the Western Galilee, northern Israel.  Music and art were his bread and butter growing up. His father played violin, his sisters played viola and violin and Rami picked up cello.  After completing his mandatory military service, he found himself at a junction: Should he follow a promising music career or pursue a newly explored path in dance?

Motivated by his life-long mentor and teacher, Yehudit Arnon, Be’er voted for the latter, reasoning that composing dance integrated most other stage art forms: music, design and lighting.  Rami’s drawing and sculpting background is manifested in the stage and costume design, his passion for music is unleashed in the way he pieces together the soundtrack, and his aesthetic vision is carefully crafted into the lighting design.

“I concoct a total experience of music, text, visual and movement,” says Rami, “taking in my impressions of the bounty all around.” “Dance is a way of life for me. I believe that any art form touches on our human condition and arouses existential explorations. I invite the audience to a journey. I provide the tip of the rope, and leave a wide range for individual interpretation and connotation.”

When asked what are his sources of inspiration, Rami replies that it can be a song he hears, a curious object, the angle in which a sun ray falls on a leaf, pregnant with rain due.

Be’er’s parents, Holocaust survivals, were members, along with Yehudit Arnon, in the commune that founded Kibbutz Ga’aton. Rami joined KCDC in 1980 as a dancer and house choreographer and rapidly made his mark.  He has since created over 40 full-piece productions for the company, leaving his signature footprint along the way.  Be’er produces at a pace of 1-2 full soirée shows a year, turning the corner for KCDC, now a globally renowned dance company.

About International Dance Village

Far away, on the other side of the rainbow, there is a little village, an International Dance Village, where dance students from around the world congregate to create.  When I came to visit, there were people dancing on dirt foot paths, behind glass doors, across lawns.  This is a unique program, initiated by Rami Be’er in 2008 on Kibbutz Ga’aton, where KCDC breaths and works.

“The extensive Ga’aton and neighboring community are engaged in this initiative, funded by Raaya Strauss.  The kibbutz communal dining hall, named “Beit Raaya,” was converted into 2 spacious dance studios, flushed with morning sun light, where KCDC rehearses daily.  There are 6 additional studios on site, with a little “home made” café where dancers and community members hang out and chill.  Once a month, on a Saturday, a collaboration between KCDC, Keshet Eylong and Teva Yechiam hostel offers a unique weekend get-away package of dance, music and pampering in the pea-green Kibbutz setting.

“There is a pyramid at the heart of kibbutz Ga’aton,” says Rami Be’er. At the top there lies the performing KCDC, then there’s KCDC 2 and Masa (“Journey” in Hebrew). The surrounding community consists of the supporting foundation of this structure. Masa is a dance immersion program that brings dance students from across the globe for a period of 5 months on the kibbutz. There is no other program like it in the world.

The literal meaning of kibbutz is a collective gathering, but there is also a double meaning in the term Kibbutz galuyot, which means an international collective gathering.  And that is what the International Dance Village is all about: a little colony of people nurturing one another, living, expressing and creating ensemble.

Talia Baruch is a writer and translator covering the dance/theater scene in San Francisco, where she has been living for the past 11 years. She is the founder of Copyous, providing creative copywriting and Localization Strategies. The ingredients that shaped her life are the explosive dance scene in urban Tel Aviv, where she grew up, the pea-green English country side, where she inhaled a handsome amount of fresh-manure & horseback-countered through endless woods, and the 24/7 Localization/Internationalization business bustle, that put perspective to it all. www.copyous.com

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The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company: Travel Journal

Posted on 24 December 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Bruchim Habaim LeKibbutz Ga’aton – Welcome to Kibbutz Ga’aton, the home of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company has enjoyed a strong presence abroad, including a performance at Central Park SummerStage in July 2008, so some of you may have had the good fortune of seeing this energetic group perform.  But you may not know about the company’s unusual background.  As its name suggests, this troupe is based not in a city but on a kibbutz.

What exactly does that mean?

To find out, I traveled north last year to observe the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in its natural habitat.  I first published this photo journal of my visit to Kibbutz Ga’aton on The Winger and on Dance In Israel’s beta version this summer. Continue Reading

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