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Curtain Up 2010: Video Preview

Posted on 22 November 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Dana Ruttenberg’s Private I’s premieres in Curtain 3Photo by Gadi Dagon.

In its 21-year history, Curtain Up – Israel’s primary platform for premieres by independent Israeli choreographers – has cycled through a series of artistic directors and experimented with different formats.  To celebrate two decades of the festival’s existence in 2009, six alumni of Curtain Up created new works and selected up-and-coming choreographers to share their evenings.  Now, in a development of last year’s innovative programming, this year’s artistic directors are four artists who have previously shown their work in Curtain Up: Tamar Borer, Ronit Ziv, Renana Raz, and Sahar Azimi.  Each veteran choreographer is overseeing an evening-long program of new works by emerging choreographers, providing a valuable outside eye for the creators on his or her bill.  With this setup, Curtain Up has added a layer of artistic support to the financial assistance that has long been a major benefit of participation in the festival.

Iris Erez’s Homesick is featured in Curtain 1. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

This year’s line-up of choreographers includes some faces familiar to Curtain Up audiences.  Iris Erez was featured last year on Yasmeen Godder’s curtain, Elad Schechter shared the stage in 2009 with Vertigo Dance Company, and Maya Brinner showed her work on Noa Dar’s 2009 program; meanwhile, Michael Getman presented his work in previous seasons of Curtain Up.  Other artists in this year’s festival have shown their recent works in Tmuna Theater’s annual Intimadance and in Shades of Dance, a biennial platform for new choreographers that often serves as a stepping stone to Curtain Up.

Shlomi Frige’s Rashomon premieres in Curtain 4.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Besides the four programs, this year’s Curtain Up includes an array of events that encourage interaction between the artists and the wider public.  Conversations with the artistic directors and choreographers will precede some of the performances, and a series of workshops will be held in conjunction with the Amuta (the Choreographer’s Society).  The culminating event of Curtain Up 2010 is a landmark symposium geared to spark conversation about dance and the body.  Organized by Yael Nativ, this symposium will be held on Friday, December 3 in Jaffa at the Teiva, 19 Sderot Yerushalayim, from 9:00 until 1:30 in the afternoon.  The first session will contain more academic discussions of selected topics, and the second session will feature four dialogues between dance scholars and each of the artistic directors of this year’s Curtain Up festival.  Admission is free to the public.

Rotem Tashach’s Monuments is featured in Curtain 2.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Dance lovers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem can catch the four curtains in late November and early December at bargain prices – tickets are a mere 60 NIS.  The Curtain Up programs will tour later this season to other areas around Israel, including Kfar Blum and potentially Dimona.  And if you’re not in Israel – or if you just want a sneak peek at what you’ll see onstage soon – check out the video preview of each curtain below!

Curtain 1

Directed by Tamar Borer, Curtain 1 features works by Iris Erez and Michael Getman.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 25 and December 3
Jerusalem Theatre: December 2


Video: Iris Erez’s Homesick


Video: Michael Getman’s Father and Feather

Curtain 2

Ronit Ziv served as the artistic director for Curtain 2, which includes works by Tammy and Ronen Itzhaki, Rotem Tashach, and Ofra Idel.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 24 and December 2
Jerusalem Theatre: December 1


Video: Ofra Idel’s Horse Tail


Video: Tammy and Ronen Itzhaki’s Have You Done


Video: Rotem Tashach’s Monuments

Curtain 3

Under the artistic direction of Renana Raz, Curtain 3 features the work of three female choreographers: Gili Navot-Friedman, Maya Brinner, and Dana Ruttenberg.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 27 and December 1
Jerusalem Theatre: November 29


Video: Maya Brinner’s The Show


Video: Dana Ruttenberg’s Private I’s


Video: Gili Navot-Friedman’s Check-in

Curtain 4

Three male choreographers – Ariel Cohen, Elad Schechter, and Shlomi Frige – will show their work in Curtain 4, under the artistic direction of Sahar Azimi.

Performance schedule:
Suzanne Dellal: November 26 and December 4
Jerusalem Theatre: November 30


Video: Elad Schechter’s Funis


Video: Ariel Cohen’s The Battle for the 21st Century’s Love


Video: Shlomi Frige’s Rashomon

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Machol Shalem 2009: A Cutting-Edge Dance Festival in Jerusalem

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.

More Information

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.

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Maholohet: SummerDance2009 at Suzanne Dellal Center

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Yoram Karmi and Uri Morag’s Man, Woman, Reflections will be performed during SummerDance

It seems like every country has its share of summer dance festivals, and Israel is no exception.  The country’s main concert dance festival, SummerDance (Maholohet in Hebrew) is already underway at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.  My preview of the festival, “Damn Hot,” was first published in the Jerusalem Post.

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Damn Hot

The Suzanne Dellal Center is turning up the heat with its Maholohet (Hot Dance) summer dance festival.  This year’s program boasts a full summer of sizzling performances, showcasing the best of Israeli dance.  From July 1 until August 29, hundreds of dancers will take the stage in 76 concerts.

Part of Maholohet‘s appeal is the appearance of so many preeminent companies.  The Batsheva, Inbal Pinto and Vertigo Dance Companies are each presenting multiple programs of critically acclaimed works.  Many popular smaller groups and up-and-coming independent choreographers are also heating up the program with their creative fires.

Raising the temperature further this summer are 11 hot-off-the-press premieres by choreographers as diverse as Yasmeen Godder, Alice Dor-Cohen, Ronit Ziv, Idan Cohen and Elina Pechersky.  Another much anticipated highlight is a special guest program with dancers from the famed Paris Opera Ballet.

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Home Port Festival Lures Audiences to Jaffa Port

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Aviv Eveguy at Home Port

Choreographer Aviv Eveguy performing a solo at Home Port’s opening night.  Photo by Aharela Golran.

The night before my flight to Boston, I trekked down to Jaffa one more time for a performance of Shlomit Fundaminsky and Itay Yatuv’s Metaktek (Ticking) at the Home Port Festival.  As I descended to the port, a car pulled up and a couple asked for directions to hangar #2.  I answered them and smiled – hangar #2 is, well, home to Home Port.

Located next to a swarm of bobbing fishing boats, this enormous hangar is not your typical destination for a dance performance.  Yet the members of the Choreographers Society have lured a mix of devoted dance fans and less seasoned audience members to the Jaffa Port over the last several weeks.  Though some performances were more sparsely attended, the opening marathon of solos on March 12 actually sold out!  Those who were turned away at the door – and those who simply couldn’t make it that night – have a second chance to witness this extraordinary program when the festival closes on April 6.

With concerts nearly every evening and so many choreographers participating, Home Port was a fantastic opportunity for me to expand my familiarity with the Israeli dance scene.  The festival introduced me to Neta Shizef’s flamenco work and to Anat Katz’s contemporary choreography.  I finally got to see dances I had missed over the last season, like Aviv Eveguy’s Dimona, Yossi Berg & Oded Graf’s Heroes, Nadine Bommer’s Manimation, and the Tel Aviv Dance Company’s Tokyo Oranges.  And I happily re-viewed several works, including Hillel Kogan’s Everything, Yoram Karmi’s La Famiglia, and Noa Shadur’s Hunting Rabbits in the North.

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Home Port Festival: History in the Making for the Choreographers Association

Posted on 13 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

choreographershomeportsmall1

Choreographers celebrating before the opening of the Home Port festival.  Photo by Dorit Talpaz.

This may sound a bit extravagant, but I don’t think I am exaggerating.  Last night I witnessed dance history – and I hope that the opening night of the Home Port Festival (and the festival itself) will go down in the books not as an isolated moment in time but as the recognized beginning of a new stage, figuratively and literally, for Israel’s independent choreographers.

The excitement was palpable when I arrived at the festival last night, and the energy only grew as more people streamed into the enormous hangar.   While Oy Division played a rousing klezmer set, I mingled with choreographers, dancers, administrators, government officials, dance writers, and dance fans.  Everyone seemed to recognize that this collective celebration of individual creation was a momentous occasion.  The dream for a permanent home for the Amuta‘s artists, though still not fully realized, no longer seemed like an impossibility; indeed, the possibilities of what the dance scene would gain in the next weeks at Home Port emboldened the choreographers to dream anew.

After the enthusiastic crowd overflowed the risers, a one-of-a-kind dance marathon commenced.  39 choreographers from the Amuta presented a total of 33 solos and 3 duets, and 38 of the choreographers themselves delivered electrifying performances.

My intention was simply to watch and enjoy, but as each piece sparked snippets of ideas, I started scribbling furiously.  What follows is my ode to the Amuta, a series of one-line impressions from each selection.   Please read on . . .

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