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Curtain Up 6: Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor Host Noa Shadur

Posted on 29 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Big Mouth

Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor’s Big Mouth.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Dance In Israel: What is your relationship to Curtain Up?
Niv Sheinfeld: We made several pieces [for the festival].  I was doing work for the Batsheva Ensemble and the Kibbutz Dance Company in the beginning, but it was part of Curtain Up.  And then I did Co-Variance, Pig, and Jorona for Curtain Up, together with Oren.

Into the Night

Noa Shadur’s Into the Night.  Photo by Jewboy.

DII: What drew you to invite Noa Shadur to be the choreographer to share the bill with you?
Oren Laor:  I suggested Noa’s name, and Niv immediately said “Yes, that’s a good idea,” because we saw Noa’s work in the past, and among many Israeli independent choreographers, Noa’s sources are the ones that we feel are the best.  She looks at humans; we saw it’s never just strictly movement.  She’s an explorer, like we like.

Into the Night

Noa Shadur’s Into the Night.  Photo by Jewboy.

NS: I think [it was] also the fact that we had a good dialogue with her.  We started seeing her work and talking to her and checking things out, and we found that the language of the dialogue was fluent, and it gave us a good base.

Big Mouth

Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor’s Big Mouth. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

DII: Can you tell me a bit about how your new work Big Mouth started?
NS: The beginning was not from an idea; it was from working with Keren [Levi], because Keren is a good friend of mine for more than 25 years.  We went to high school together, and I got to know the dance world from her.  She was talking about coming to Israel; we said maybe we’ll make a solo for you.  We started by joking about it.  And then we invited her to get into the studio for two weeks in Tel Aviv, and interesting things came up for us.  Then we went for Amsterdam for the second period of work.

Big Mouth

Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor’s Big Mouth. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

NS: We were touring sometimes in this period, and we weren’t in Israel a lot, and somehow I think it affected this work. [Also] the fact that Keren left Israel, it made the piece somehow with reference to the Israeli culture.  It’s only a reference.  It’s from a very personal point of view, from our connection, this trio.  This solo became a trio; of course we found ourselves drawn in.

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

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Curtain Up 2009: Celebrating 20 Years of Israeli Premieres

Posted on 22 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Curtain Up 2009 Poster

The Curtain Up 2009 poster.  Courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

The annual Curtain Up festival has figured prominently in my understanding and appreciation of Israeli contemporary dance.  Every autumn, this festival presents a fresh harvest of premieres by some of the field’s most promising choreographers.  I have now attended Curtain Up twice, and both seasons introduced me to some new faces and showcased the latest creations by choreographers whom I was already following.

As the buzz about this year’s 20th anniversary celebration grew, I wanted to find out more about the history of Curtain Up.  I talked with each of the six headlining presenters in this year’s festival, veteran choreographers who received support from the festival earlier in their careers.  They related their own personal pasts with Curtain Up, but wanting even more of an overview, I decided to go straight to the founder of the festival: Nilly Cohen, who directs the dance division of the Ministry of Culture.

Nilly’s retelling of Curtain Up’s history traces the rise of the Israeli contemporary dance scene.  “20 years ago, there were not so many choreographers in Israel,” she remembers.  “There were only three dance companies, and all the young choreographers, all the fringe simply didn’t exist.  And this was the main target for my initiative.  I [wanted] to build the next generation of choreographers in Israel.  That was the aim 20 years ago.  And now we can see that this aim succeeded.  Now we have many choreographers and many dance companies.”

Nilly continued, “I [initiated] Curtain Up 20 years ago because of the bad conditions for the choreographers.  They didn’t have the money to make their creations, to do the performances, to do the public relations, the marketing, and so on.  It takes [a lot of] money to do this, and they were very young; they were beginners in this profession.  And it was very difficult.  So I initiated this stage to give the young choreographers all the conditions to make their art.”

Then as now, Nilly explained, the government stepped in to help independent choreographers.  “We give them the money for the creation: for the costumes, for the dancers, for the lighting, for the design,” she elaborated.  “Besides this, we give them free the [concert] halls, Suzanne Dellal in Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem Theatre in Jerusalem . . . We do the public relations for them.  And we also give them the income.”

This generous public support spurred the flowering of Israeli dance, fostering its growth from a small pool of struggling choreographers to a vibrant scene featuring both an array of full-fledged companies and a seemingly multiplying set of individual artists.  Nilly recounted with pride, “I began [Curtain Up] 20 years ago, and then many creators were born on this stage and developed.  They developed to be dance companies like Vertigo Dance Company, like Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s company, like Noa Dar’s dance company, like Yasmeen Godder and many others.”

As this significant anniversary of Curtain Up approached, Nilly said, “I thought that the best thing to celebrate 20 [years] is to show what is the fruit of this stage.  And the fruits are all of these dance companies, so I invited them to perform on this stage this year.”  She added that she also was pleased to offer these now mature choreographers the chance to curate the festival by selecting emerging choreographers to join them on their respective programs.

Below is my preview of Curtain Up 2009, which was originally published in the Jerusalem Post as “Celebrating Creative Choreography.” My next few articles on Dance In Israel will zoom in on each individual program, with excerpts from my interviews with the choreographers and photographs of the new works.

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Celebrating Creative Choreography

Participating in the annual Curtain Up festival, the country’s major platform for new works, is a rite of passage for Israeli choreographers.  Reflecting on her history with the festival, choreographer Noa Dar explains, “It really was my school and my initiation program for my choreography.”  Now Dar and other veteran choreographers are returning to Curtain Up for a special 20th anniversary season and they are initiating a new generation of dancemakers into the circle of Curtain Up participants.

As in past years, Curtain Up 2009 boasts several programs of hot-off-the press choreography.  Yet this year, there is a twist.  Each of the six concerts is headlined by an established choreographer who in turn selected one or two emerging choreographers to join the bill.  The result is a sumptuous spread of Israeli contemporary dance featuring both the field’s most acclaimed artists and some of its freshest rising stars.

Subtext

Nimrod Freed’s Subtext.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Nimrod Freed of the Tami Dance Company chose both Anat Grigorio and Dafi Altebab to join him in Curtain 1 because they are “authentic, passionate and creative in an unusual way.”  Freed’s Subtext, Grigorio’s Daydream, and Altbeb’s Under the Rug all imaginatively uncover and probe the hidden sides of life.

Mana

Noa Wertheim’s Mana.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Curtain 2 is enlivened by the electrifying energy of Vertigo Dance Company and its younger division, the Vertigo Ensemble.  Performed against a strikingly geometric black-and-white set, Noa Wertheim’s new Mana explores the essential differences between men and women. Danced with verve by the Ensemble, Elad Shechter’s Roni casts a broader gaze at the dynamics of control in contemporary life.

Yasmeen Godder's "Love Fire"

Yasmeen Godder’s Love Fire. Photo by Tamar Lamm.

Yasmeen Godder was a frequent presenter in Curtain Up during the early 2000s, but her premiere in Curtain 3 marks a dramatic departure from her previous works.  LOVE FIRE, a duet danced to classical waltzes, reconsiders romanticism and includes a “performative installation-based response” by visual artist Yochai Matos.  Iris Erez, who regularly collaborated with Godder as a dancer, unleashes her own choreographic power in the trio Numbia.

Blossom

Ya’ara Dolev’s BLOSSOM.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

The clean lines, precise angles and graceful curves of the body take center stage as the Tel Aviv Dance Company performs two works in Curtain 4.  Waves of movement wash over the dancers in BLOSSOM, a premiere by the company’s co-artistic director Ya’ara Dolev.  Guest choreographer Michael Miler also displays what Dolev describes as a predilection for “pure, clean movement in space” in his Number 6.

Us

Noa Dar’s Us.  Photo by Tamar Lamm.

When Noa Dar selected Maya Brinner and Irad Mazliah for Curtain 5, the three choreographers talked about uniting their program with a common theme. Dar says that Brinner’s Red Ladies, Mazliah’s Unter den linden, and her own Us deploy unique perspectives on “difference versus conformity and stillness or stuck positions versus mobility and change.”

Big Mouth

For Curtain 6, the team of Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor joined forces with dancer/choreographer Keren Levy to produce Big Mouth.  Using their personal relationships to Israeli society as a jumping off point, the trio investigates the conflicting desires of belonging to a group while maintaining one’s self-expression.  The program is rounded out by Noa Shadur’s Into the Night, which compares the reality of death with its melodramatic theatrical representation.

Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak's "Trout"

Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Trout. Photo by Asaf Ashkenazi.

Traditionally, Curtain Up hosts an additional program by a well-known group, and this year’s guest concert is guaranteed to make a big splash.  Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Trout, which premiered in 2008 in Norway, floods a black-box stage with water to create an otherworldly setting where dancers mix with musicians from the experimental Kitchen Orchestra.  It’s a magical way to cap off Curtain Up’s celebration of creativity.

More Information

Curtain Up runs from November 24 to December 7 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv and from December 8-14 at the Rebecca Crown Auditorium in Jerusalem. Tickets (100 NIS for most shows) are available at 03-5105656 (Suzanne Dellal Center) and 02-5605755 (Rebecca Crown Auditorium).

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

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Israeli Dance: What’s Happening in November

Posted on 01 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

November is a month of festivals and foreign tours.  For more details about these events and other performances, visit Dance In Israel’s Calendars.

At Home

Modern Feeling

Lee In Soo’s Modern Feeling is part of Tel Aviv Dance.  Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot.

Tel Aviv Dance 2009 is in full swing at the Suzanne Dellal Center and the Opera House.  Still to come are companies and choreographers from France, Spain, Korea, and Israel.  Check out the lineup in Tel Aviv Dance 2009 Mixes Global and Local Dance and get to the theater from now until November 13 to catch some of the best international dance around.

Walking inside Water

Sharon Vazanna’s Walking Inside Water.  Photo by Amina Husberg.

While international performers are taking over the main stage at Suzanne Dellal, the center’s more intimate Yerushalmi Theater is hosting a mixed bill by emerging Israeli choreographers.  On November 6, Odelia Kuperberg presents the trio Without Blinking, while Sharon Vazanna premieres her solo Walking Inside Water. Cuban-born Lazaro Godoy joins the program with his striking Jugo de Limon.

Noa Dar’s Us premieres at Curtain Up 2009.  Photo by Tamar Lamm.

Soon after Tel Aviv Dance finishes, another major festival will take its place on Suzanne Dellal’s stage.  Haramat Masach, or Curtain Up, is an annual platform for premieres by Israeli choreographers.  To celebrate the Suzanne Dellal Center’s 20th anniversary, this year the festival invited established choreographers to create new works and host fresh creations by emerging artists.  Curtain 1 opens with Nimrod Freed plus Anat Grigorio and Dafi Altbeb; Curtain 2 pairs Vertigo Dance Company’s Noa Wertheim with Elad Shechter; Curtain 3 boasts Yasmeen Godder and Iris Erez; Curtain 4 includes Tel Aviv Dance Company’s Yaara Dolev and Michael Miler; Curtain 5 features Noa Dar with Maya Brinner and Irad Mazliah; and Curtain 6 closes with the team of Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor as well as Noa Shadur.  The festival ends with a special performance of the Inbal Pinto Dance Company in Trout. Check back soon for more posts on Curtain Up 2009, and see below for articles about individual choreographers who will be participating in this year’s festival.

Video: Rina Badash’s Revealed Under the Covers

Although Curtain Up dominates the dance programming in late November, there are still a few dance performances to be found outside this platform.  On November 26, Tmuna Theater will host Rina Badash’s Revealed Under the Covers, a multidisciplinary work featuring a solo dancer, live music, and video art projected on four screens.

Abroad

"MAX" by Ohad Naharin

Ohad Naharin’s MAX. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

After presenting Ohad Naharin’s Hora and Mamootot at home during the Tel Aviv Dance festival, the Batsheva Dance Company is packing its bags for a European tour.  Audiences in the Netherlands, France, and Germany can catch performances of Naharin’s Mamootot, Deca Dance, MAX, and Sharon Eyal’s Love. Want to read more about these works?  Take a look at Mamootot: Challenging the Performer-Spectator Divide, Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance in Israel: A Cycle Completed, and MAX: Connecting to Ohad Naharin’s Choreography.

Ohad Naharin in Gaga Class

Ohad Naharin teaching Gaga in Tel Aviv.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Meanwhile in New York, Ohad Naharin will receive one of the 2009 Dance Magazine Awards on November 9.  During his trip stateside, he will teach master classes in Gaga at Peridance in New York City from November 9-10.  Hear some of the choreographer’s thoughts on Gaga in Ohad Naharin on Gaga (Video).

Noa Wertheim's "Mana"

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Further south in Washington D.C., Vertigo Dance Company will perform Noa Wertheim’s new Mana at the General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America (the GA).  This year the GA will meet from November 8-10, and Vertigo will perform at the opening plenary which also features a speech by President Barack Obama.  Israeli audiences can see Mana when Vertigo performs at Curtain Up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Singular Sensation

Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation.  Photo by Tamar Lamm.

Yasmeen Godder’s dancers are also headed to Europe for more performances of Singular Sensation in Belgium and Germany.  Learn more about the choreographer in Close Encounters Series: Yasmeen Godder.

For Young Dancers in Israel

Over the next several months, a select group of young aspiring dancers will develop their artistry in weekly Gaga classes and repertory workshops taught by members of the Batsheva company and staff.  Want to be part of this project?   If you’re between the ages of 14 and 22, you can audition on November 10 at Studio Varda in the Suzanne Dellal Center.  For more information, contact Michal at [email protected].

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Celebrating Shavuot through Movement: Hagiga with Bodyways, Vertigo & the Amuta

Posted on 19 May 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Photos: The 2009 Hagiga Celebration, including Vertigo Dance Company and choreographers of the Amuta. Studio photos from 2007 festival are by Rivi Nissim and Amos Vinikof.

For religious Israelis, the upcoming holiday of Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.  But for this country’s dancers, Shavuot is a time for celebrating movement.  Leaving the hustle and bustle of daily life behind, they flock to more remote, peaceful dance centers around Israel for a few days of invigorating workshops and inspiring performances.

One of these annual Shavuot gatherings is Hagiga, which translates fittingly to “celebration” or “festival.”   Initiated by the portal Bodways, the event has become a holiday tradition not only for dancers but for people who are involved in other expressive movement arts such as yoga, tai chi, and Feldenkrais.  Rivi Nissim, the founder of Bodyways, emphasizes that the festival “was initiated as a physical (‘down to earth’) meeting between the artists represented in the Bodyways website and the surfers of the website.”

Nissim calls Hagiga a “wandering festival,” hosted in some years by Adama and Ashram in the Desert before moving to Vertigo Dance Company’s Eco-Art Village last spring.  No matter where it is held, the festival always attracts a spirited crowd eager to celebrate and connect through movement.

Now in its fifth year, Hagiga has grown to be a dynamic collaboration between Bodyways, Vertigo, and the Amuta (the Choreographers Society, an association for Israel’s independent choreographers).   The involvement of so many choreographers will make this year’s event somewhat more dance-centered, with several contemporary repertory workshops.  As in previous festivals, there will be a wide range of classes including Gaga, dance improvisation, pilates, Feldenkrais, acrobalance, Cuban percussion, Rio Abierto, voice, and more.  Since all of the teachers are represented in the Bodyways website, the Hagiga festival will indeed live up to its promise as a physical meeting between the portal’s users (and, on top of that, it will be quite a meeting of styles!).

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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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