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The 50th Israel Festival: Batsheva, Merce Cunningham, and More

Posted on 25 May 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: The 2011 Israel Festival
50 years of the Israel Festival – this country’s most prestigious multidisciplinary arts festival – is a milestone worthy of celebration.  And for local dance lovers, the jubilee season offers even more reasons to celebrate, for the programming features an extraordinary lineup of artists from home and from abroad.  With a rich calendar of performances through June 18, the 2011 Israel Festival is set to lure concert-goers from around the country to Jerusalem.  Here’s a peek at this year’s dance events:


Video: Strange Fruit

The first day of the festival featured the physical marvels of Australia’s Strange Fruit in Zion Square and the lyricism of the Israel Ballet and soloists from Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet performing Giselle in Safra Square.

Video: Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21

Batsheva Dance Company returns to the festival with Ohad Naharin’s new Sadeh21, created in collaboration with the troupe’s full roster of dancers.  Bathed in soft lighting by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi) and clothed in variously hued and textured costumes by Ariel Cohen, the company presented a short preview to the press on Monday.  Although the cast is large, the rapport among the dancers often lends the work an intimate feel and effectively draws the viewer into the world onstage.  Sadeh21 premieres on May 25 and continues its run in Jerusalem through May 27.

Naharin is not the only well-known Israeli choreographer premiering work in the Israel Festival.  On May 28-29, choreographer Nimrod Freed and composer Israel Breit will unveil La, a work for four singers and three dancers.  Drawing on their respective backgrounds in dance and theater, longtime partners Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor will debut Ship of Fools on June 9.


Video: Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Two years after Merce Cunningham’s death, the legendary choreographer’s company is appearing in the Israel Festival as part of its worldwide Legacy Tour.  On June 6, the Sherover Theater will host the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s performance of Split Sides (2003) and Sounddance (1975), while the Israel Museum will be the site of several Events – programs including excerpts of Cunningham’s renowned repertory – on June 9-11.

Merce Cunningham’s Events.  Photo by Anna Finke.

Besides these performances, a series of lectures, discussions, and workshops called MerceCampus will be offered at Bezalel, Yaffo 23 in conjunction with the Jerusalem Season of Culture.  Sessions include a workshop with Dance Forms, the computer software used by Cunningham to compose his dances; film screenings and performances of music by Cunningham’s famed partner John Cage; and conversations with the company’s dancers and artistic director.  Entry to MerceCampus programming is free, and the full schedule in English is available here.

Video: The Danish Dance Theatre in Tim Rushton’s Kridt

The 2011 Israel Festival will close with the Danish Dance Theatre in two programs.  Artistic director Tim Rushton teams up with jazz artist Caroline Henderson for Love Songs on June 15.  A mixed bill including Rushton’s Kridt, Enigma, and CaDance will be performed in Jerusalem on June 17 and in Modi’in on June 18.

For more information about programming and ticketing, visit the Israel Festival’s website.

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International Exposure 2010: Video Preview

Posted on 05 December 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror’s Terminal B. Photo by Naama Nada.

Even though December has started and the shelves of Tel Aviv’s bakeries are lined with sufganiot, the jelly donuts traditionally eaten during Hanukkah, many of Tel Aviv’s residents are still walking around in tank tops and sandals. Unusually hot days and sunny skies have made it easy for the masses to pretend that summer never ended. But for those of us who follow the dance field, there is no denying that the calendar year is coming to a close. The tip-off is in the posters and fliers on display at Suzanne Dellal as well as the press releases and invitations received via e-mail, all announcing the arrival of the annual showcase of Israeli dance: International Exposure.

Nimrod Freed’s Flash.  Photo by Itamar Freed.

The exact shape and scope of International Exposure have shifted since its first incarnation sixteen years ago. For many years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it operated in conjunction with Curtain Up, the country’s premiere platform for new works by independent choreographers. The festival has stretched over a varying number of days and welcomed crowds both intimate and large. But throughout, the goal has remained the same: to display the wealth of works premiered over the past year to foreign arts presenters, dignitaries, and journalists in the hopes of sending Israeli dance around the world.

Orly Portal’s Gnawia

International Exposure 2010 will run from Wednesday, December 8 through Sunday, December 12, and the schedule features an enticing array of established companies and independent choreographers. Most of the programs will take place at the Suzanne Dellal Centre, but a number of concerts and informal showings will take place at other performance venues and studios. And while some of the events are offered only to the festival’s guests, many of the shows are open to the public.  Below is a guide to the events that are accessible to local dance lovers (and a sneak peek at International Exposure for those of you who are not in town).  All shows are at Suzanne Dellal unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, December 8

Video: Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Zina

International Exposure starts out with the Batsheva Ensemble, the Batsheva Dance Company’s junior division, performing Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Zina at 20:00.

Thursday, December 9

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

International Exposure’s first full day kicks off at 11:00 with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Rami Be’er’s new Transform, which premiered during the international Tel Aviv Dance festival this past fall.

Curtain Up 2010 will be represented by three separate bills shown at 16:00, 19:00, and 22:30.

Video: Tamar Borer and Tamara Erde’s Ana

Thursday’s offerings also include a performance of Tamar Borer and Tamara Erde’s latest collaboration, Ana, at 20:30.

Friday, December 10

Friday’s programming includes a fair amount of moving about to different theaters in the area.

Video: The Project in Jacopo Godani’s Light Years.

At 14:00, The Project – a joint initiative by the Suzanne Dellal Centre and the Israeli Opera – will present a mixed bill at the Opera House in the heart of Tel Aviv.   The program includes Emanuel Gat’s Through the Center, Jacopo Godani’s Light Years, and Marco Goeke’s Supernova.

Video: Vertigo in Mana

Vertigo Dance Company presents a hit from last year, Mana, at the Givatayim Theater at 17:00.  Choreographed by Noa Wertheim, Mana premiered during the twentieth anniversary of the Curtain Up festival.

Video: Maria Kong in Miss Brazil

Maria Kong reprises its program from the Tel Aviv Dance festival, Miss Brazil, at 21:00 at Suzanne Dellal. The company’s four founders – Anderson Braz, Talia Landa, Leo Lerus, and Ya’ara Moses – collaborated on the first half of the bill, Miss, while guest choreographer Idan Cohen contributed the second half, Brazil.

Saturday, December 11

Saturday is primarily a day of mixed bills, titled Exposures, that feature both shorter dances in their entirety alongside excerpts from full-evening works.

Video: Yoram Karmi’s Particle Accelerator

Exposure 1, at 11:00, features Fresco Dance Group in an excerpt from the evening-length Particle Accelerator.  The bill is rounded out by Rachel Erdos’s OU’.

Video: Rachel Erdos’s OU’

Odelya Kuperberg’s Tzitzushka.

At 13:00, Exposure 2 will include Odelya Kuperberg’s Tzitzushka and a new work from Idan Sharabi.

Video: Liat Dror’s Terminal B

Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror bring their company from Mizpe Ramon to show Dror’s Terminal B at 14:00. 

Video: Mami Shimazaki’s Loop People

At 15:00, Mami Shimizaki’s Loop People shares the bill with Orly Portal’s Gnawia in Exposure 3.

Video: Kamea Dance Company in Tamir Ginz’s Srul

The day finishes at 22:30 with Exposure 4, featuring Kamea Dance Company in an excerpt from Tamir Ginz’s Srul along with Nimrod Freed’s Flash.

Sunday, December 12

Video: Sharon Eyal’s Bill

After a whirlwind of performances, International Exposure 2010 closes with Batsheva Dance Company in Sharon Eyal’s Bill.

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A Peek into Nimrod Freed’s Choreography

Posted on 06 June 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Nimrod Freed’s Peep Dance

This article was initially published as “Close Encounters Series: Nimrod Freed” on The Winger in 2008, prior to a performance of his Peep Dance at Central Park SummerStage in New York.

* * *

Nimrod Freed. Photo by Eyal Landesman.

Close Encounters Series: Nimrod Freed

My initial encounter with Nimrod Freed was in autumn 2007 via e-mail.  I first contacted him because he was on the faculty of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, my host institution here in Israel during my Fulbright grant.  We met, though, at a different college with a focus on teacher training: Seminar HaKibbutzim in northern Tel Aviv.

Not only does Nimrod teach at both of these institutions, but he also is the artistic director at Tel Aviv’s Beit Tami, a spectacularly located community center that is equipped with a few studios and a small performance space popular with independent choreographers.  There he runs the Tami Dance Company, which currently brings together one actor with several dancers in dance theater works.

As I learned about all of Nimrod’s roles during that first meeting at Seminar HaKibbutzim, I realized – in the very best way – that I had got more than I bargained for!  Speaking with him gave me a much clearer sense of the institutional map of Israeli contemporary dance.

Nimrod Freed’s Peep Dance. Photo by Anatoly Michaelo.

I also learned about Nimrod’s own career, from his beginnings in folk dance to his intensive study of concert dance, which was sparked by his involvement in an opera production of Samson and Delilah at age 16.  His interest in dance theater developed after seeing Pina Bausch’s Café Müller , and subsequently, he studied acting and directing at Tel Aviv University.  A class there with guest teacher Kei Takei proved to be a major turning point; indeed, soon afterwards, he joined her company Moving Earth in New York.

Nimrod stayed in the U.S. for just over a decade, and during this time, he also formed his own dance theater company.  It was an invitation to perform in the Israel Festival which paved the way back to his native country.  Through his teaching of improvisation and pedagogy, his choreography, and his leadership at Beit Tami, he has contributed enormously to the vibrant Israeli contemporary dance scene – but even as he maintains a home base in Tel Aviv, he continues to work internationally. Nimrod’s company has toured to Europe and Japan, where he met Min Tanaka and picked up a butoh influence.

Spectators at Nimrod Freed’s Peep Dance. Photo by Itamar Freed.

In July 2008, Nimrod returned to New York with the Tami Dance Company for a performance of Peep Dance at Central Park SummerStage. Like Israeli crowds, the American audiences clustered around colorful structures and put their eyes up to peepholes to sneak a peek at the dancers inside.

Nimrod Freed’s Subtext. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Nimrod’s latest work, Subtext, was shown as part of Curtain Up 2009 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv and the Rebecca Crown Auditorium in Jerusalem.

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International Exposure 2009: Showcasing Israeli Dance

Posted on 05 December 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Rooster

Barak Marshall’s Rooster.  Photo by Avi Avin.

As autumn turns into winter, there’s an interesting progression from one dance festival in Tel Aviv to the next. Tel Aviv Dance introduces Israeli audiences to top-notch dance from around the globe before giving way to Curtain Up, a celebration of new Israeli-made works. And then, in a few concentrated days of concerts, International Exposure attempts to introduce Israeli dance to the world by showcasing the past year’s bounty (including recently premiered Curtain Up works) to foreign arts presenters who just might invite local choreographers to perform in their home countries.

Now in its fifteenth year, International Exposure will present the work of twenty-seven Israeli choreographers to over ninety guests including theater directors, festival directors, and journalists. These visitors will witness a stellar lineup boasting Israel’s most prominent dance companies as well as many independent choreographers at various stages of their careers. Some of the works on the program have been performed many times over the course of the year; others, such as the selections from the still in progress Curtain Up festival, are in their initial performances. Together, these dances offer a valuable retrospective on the past season and paint a representative picture of Israel’s vibrant contemporary dance scene.

International Exposure 2009 runs from Wednesday, December 9 until Sunday, December 13. Many of the concerts will be held at the Suzanne Dellal Centre and are open to the public, so local audiences can catch up on shows they missed during the last year. Other performances will be held at the Israel Classical Ballet Centre, the Nachmani Theater, Clipa Theater, and the Herzliya Theater, giving visitors a peek at the larger scale of dance venues in Israel.

Below is a day-by-day virtual tour of the festival with photographs and videos of many of the dances which will be performed. Want to learn more about the choreographers, companies, works, and festivals I mention? Click on the underlined names to see related articles published on Dance In Israel.

As we say here in Israel, צפייה מהנה – tzfiya mehana, pleasant viewing!

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Curtain Up 1: Nimrod Freed Hosts Anat Grigorio and Dafi Altebab

Posted on 23 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Subtext5401

Nimrod Freed’s Subtext.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Dance In Israel: What is your relationship to Curtain Up?
Nimrod Freed: I was produced in Haramat Masach [Curtain Up] about four times.   At a certain moment I felt that I had to move on, and now it’s a very good way to come for a visit.
DII: On this visit, what drew you to invite both Anat and Dafi to join you in Curtain 1?
NF: I’ve known Anat and Dafi for many years.

Daydream

Anat Grigorio’s Daydream.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

NF: I met Anat as a dancer; she came to dance in my Tami Dance Company.   I need to work with very creative people, and from that very moment, I saw her creativity.   As a matter of fact, while she was a dancer in my company, I was already producing her as a young creator.

Under the Rug

Dafi Altebab’s Under the Rug. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

NF: I met Dafi when I did the project “On the Edge” in Beit Tami, so I produced her work.  And I think both Anat and Dafi are very authentic and passionate and creative in an unusual way.

DII: Do you see any links between the work that you made for this program and the works that Dafi and Anat made?
NF: There is a common ground which happened by chance.  I didn’t strive for that . . . it happened.  The three of us are dealing with the hidden sides of life.

Under the Rug

Dafi Altebab’s Under the Rug. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

NF: Dafi is trying to reveal, to open up stuff that she pushed under the carpet.

Daydream

Anat Grigorio’s Daydream.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

NF: Anat is dealing with this moment of waking up.  You know, in the morning, when we open up the eyes, trying to wake up; those moments that we don’t know exactly where we are . . . For her, you know, it’s a very intriguing time; many things are happening in this time, and she’s trying to dance it and understand it.  I guess she’s meeting her unconsciousness in those moments.

Subtext

Nimrod Freed’s Subtext.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

NF: And I’m dealing with subtext.

Subtext

Nimrod Freed’s Subtext.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

DII: Can you tell me a little bit more about your piece, Subtext?
NF: I am interested more in what is under the words, what is under our life.  I’m more interested in energy, in what people don’t say.  And I’m trying to dance it . . . Whenever we talk subtext, right away there is a new subtext.  And then we reveal it, we discover it, and right away there is a new layer, a new subtext.  When we dance, we find ourselves not dancing, not moving, and still there is a new subtext . . . For me it becomes more and more interesting, the world which is beneath, under, [rather] than the politically correct world.  And I wish we could talk subtext.  Maybe it wouldn’t be very polite, but it looks closer to truth.

* * *

For listings of Curtain Up performances, please visit the Dance In Israel Calendars page.

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