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Shades of Dance 2011: 16 New Choreographers at Suzanne Dellal

Posted on 11 August 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Liron Ozeri’s Caravan.  Photo by Kobi Ben Sasson.

As Idit Herman stepped up to the podium in Yerushalmi Hall at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for the press conference announcing Shades of Dance (Gvanim Bemachol) 2011, she reflected on how meaningful this moment was for her.  Herman – who co-founded Tel Aviv’s adventurous Clipa Theater with Dmitry Tyulpanov – first received widespread acclaim as a creator in 1997 at Shades of Dance, a biennial platform for new choreographers.  Winning the top prize at the 1997 competition helped launch Herman and Tyulpanov’s career; indeed, the award enabled the partners to embark on their next project, and the momentum that built from that initial success progressed until Clipa became a well-known player in the country’s art scene.  Now Herman has come full circle, returning to Shades of Dance as artistic director and helping the next generation of choreographers get their start.

Shades of Dance, which takes place every two years and is now in its sixteenth edition, has undergone numerous changes since its inception in 1984.  The inaugural event was held in Ramla as a celebration of independent choreographers, boasting both concerts and workshops.  Moving to the Duhl Auditorium in Tel Aviv in 1987, the second Shades of Dance bore a closer resemblance to today’s platform with a competition structure inviting new choreographers to vie for a prize.  Shades of Dance found a long-term home at Suzanne Dellal in 1990, and here, it has been led by a string of artistic directors from Ellida Geyra to Naomi Perlov to Hanoch Ben Dror to Herman.  In some years, the choreographers were organized into bills based on themes, while in other years the programs had no titles.  Some editions of the festival included additional shows featuring works by choreographers still in high school.  Occasionally, more than one top prize was awarded, while in 2007 and 2009, Shades of Dance was not organized as a competition.  Amidst all this variation, the constant has been an emphasis on showcasing a broad spectrum of work by new artists who are, more often than not, as yet unknown to the larger public.

Idan Yoav’s Almost Human.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

This year’s Shades of Dance, to be held from September 7-10, will certainly fulfill this aim.  From the 90 aspiring choreographers who applied, Herman selected 16 artists whom she believed were “the bravest among them, who wanted to go all the way.”  These choreographers went through an intensive process, sometimes consulting with the artistic director about how to clearly bring out their works’ content and craft their visual design.  Herman has arranged the resulting dances into five programs according to theme, and noting the great push that the first prize once gave her and Tyulpanov, she is reinstating the competition model so that an award contributed by an anonymous donor may propel the most promising of these young voices to even greater heights.

The five different programs of Shades of Dance 2011 are as follows:

Sharon Vaisvaser’s 42 Inch.  Photo by Araleh.

Program Aleph: Pure Dance highlights virtuoso movement in Gil Carlos Harush’s TAKANA, Smadar Goshen’s Urbania, and Sharon Vaisvaser’s 42 Inch.  Program Aleph will be performed on September 7 at 20:00 and September 9 at 20:00 in Dellal Hall.

Ran Ben Dror’s Agassi Pallas.  Photo by Sarah Ben Dror.

Program Bet: Dream Big features work by four creators whom Herman described as “daring artists with chutzpah.” The program includes Idan Yoav’s Almost Human, Ran Ben Dror’s Agassi Pallas, Lee Meir’s Translation in the Body of the Text, and Yuval Goldstein’s Expensive Shit.  Program Bet will be performed on September 8 at 20:00 and September 10 at 22:30 in Dellal Hall.

Meytal Blanaru’s Aurora.  Photo by Julie Betrad.

Program Gimel: The Future is Now centers on work that Herman calls “futuristic dance” with refreshingly unfamiliar movement.  The bill is composed of Meytal Blanaru’s Aurora, Moran Yitzhaki Abergel’s Over me, and Lilach Livne’s Monday Larissa.  Program Gimel will be performed on September 7 at 17:30, September 8 at 22:30, and September 9 at 12:00 in Yerushalmi Hall.

Yoni Soutchy’s Ben.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Program Daled: Forbidden Fruit has been dubbed “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” by Herman and includes Yoni Soutchy’s Ben, Merav Cohen’s And When the Beast Returned, and Amit Zamir’s Buba (Doll).  Program Daled will be performed on September 7 at 22:30, September 8 at 17:30, and September 9 at 14:30 in Yerushalmi Hall.

Artour Astman’s Foosho.  Photo by Alexander Sherbakof.

Program Hey: Rare Animal showcases artists who, according to Herman, “researched the physical border between human and animal” and boast “rare physical abilities, almost beyond human.”  The bill features Liron Ozeri’s Caravan, Ido Batash’s Bread and Circuses Blood, and Artour Astman’s Foosho.  Program Hey will be performed September 9 at 22:30 and September 10 at both 17:30 and 20:00 in Yerushalmi Hall.

A closing ceremony will take place on September 10 at 23:30.

Tickets are available at 03-5105656 or online at the Suzanne Dellal Centre’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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Tel Aviv Dance 2010

Posted on 19 September 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Preview of Tel Aviv Dance 2010

Four years after its founding, the Tel Aviv Dance festival – an outgrowth and expansion of the earlier Dance Europa festival – is now an eagerly anticipated annual staple of Israel’s jam-packed dance calendar.  From October 4-30, dance lovers can take a whirlwind world tour of exciting, exceptionally diverse dance from the comfort of two local dance hubs, the Suzanne Dellal Centre and the Israeli Opera – Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC).

Yair Vardi (director of Suzanne Dellal) and Hannah Munitz (director of the Opera House) declared in a press release, “As each year in the festival, we try to keep the Israeli audience up to date and present contemporary dance from all over the world, including intriguing, far-away places. This year the festival will host premieres from dance companies from South Africa, South Korea, and China alongside those from the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel.”

The numbers are indeed impressive: by the end of the festival, 12 companies from 9 countries will present 34 performances.  And the breadth of genres and aesthetics on display is breathtaking.  Tel Aviv Dance 2010’s programming runs the gamut from hip-hop to ballet and offers lavish large-scale works alongside more intimate and modest approaches.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra. Photo by Hugo Glendinning. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Tel Aviv Dance 2010’s lineup includes some of the biggest names, old and new, in modern and contemporary dance.  From Belgium hails Eastman, a young company headed by the acclaimed Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.  Eastman will offer Aleko, Faun, and a new work at Suzanne Dellal.   Cherkaoui’s striking Sutra, a collaboration with sculptor Antony Gormley, composer Szymon Braska, and monks from the Shaolin Temple in China, will also be performed at the Opera.

The U.S. modern dance powerhouse Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will also visit the Opera, bringing not only Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations but also George Faison’s Suite Otis, Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, and Robert Battle’s Unfold.

Kader Attou’s Petites Histoires.com.  Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Hip-hop also makes a few appearances on this year’s program.  The French troupe Accrorap brings Algerian choreographer Kader Attou’s PetitesHistoires.com, while ten male dancers from South Korea will offer Shin Chang Ho’s No Comment. On the same bill with No Comment is Kim Jin-Mi’s A Body Conflicting with Emotion, a work for four women.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Carmina Burana. Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Some ballet influence is visible as well in Tel Aviv Dance 2010’s lineup.  From Canada hails the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Mauricio Wainrot’s Carmina Burana and Peter Quanz’s In Tandem.  10 principal dancers from the acclaimed New York City Ballet present a program called To Dance, with excerpts of works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and Tom Gold.

Dada Masilo’s Carmen.  Photo courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

Rising star Dada Masilo, a 24-year-old dancer and choreographer from South Africa, has also revealed a predilection towards ballet influences in her work.  For Tel Aviv Dance, Masilo brings her dance theater work Carmen to Suzanne Dellal.

Also among this year’s offerings is the Spanish dancer and choreographer Miguel Angel Berna’s sweeping Goya, inspired by painter Francisco Goya.

Maria Kong in Miss Brazil.  Photo by Ascaf.

Dance from Israel forms a strong presence in this year’s programming.  Barak Marshall’s Rooster, which was a success at the Opera House during Tel Aviv Dance 2009, will make an appearance in 2010 at Suzanne Dellal.  Batsheva Dance Company will present house choreographer Sharon Eyal’s Bill, which debuted last May, while the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will unveil Rami Be’er’s newest work, Transform. Maria Kong Dancers Company, a collective of dancer-choreographers Anderson Braz, Talia Landa, Leo Lerus, and Ya’ara Moses, will offer their own creation Miss as well as Brazil by Idan Cohen.

For a more in depth look at what is in store during Tel Aviv Dance, check out the longer video below.  The clips are, in order, Accrorap, Shin Chang Ho, Kim Jin-Mi, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Dada Masilo, Barak Marshall, New York City Ballet, Batsheva Dance Company, Eastman, Miguel Angel Berra, Winnipeg Royal Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Maria Kong, and Eastman.

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More About Vertigo Dance Company & the Eco-Art Village

Posted on 24 July 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

With a studio in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv and another home base in the form of an Eco-Art Village on Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Hey, Vertigo Dance Company is certainly far from ordinary.  But what makes Vertigo even more of a standout is the exceptional artistry and socially conscious vision of its artistic directors, Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al.

From the very start, the couple’s striking choreography made an impression on the local dance scene. The pair’s first duet, Vertigo, drew not only from Sha’al’s own experience in the air force but also considered the feeling of dizziness within the context of personal relationships; the work garnered them the 1992 On the Way to London award from the British Council. The following year, their multimedia duet Contact Lenses won the first prize in the prestigious Shades of Dance festival for emerging choreographers.

As Wertheim and Sha’al expanded the ensemble of their Vertigo Dance Company, they became known for making daringly athletic work that explored deeply human issues.   The company’s repertory also shattered the conventions of traditional concert dance.  The Power of Balance (2001), a collaboration with British choreographer Adam Benjamin, integrated the group’s regular roster of dancers with disabled dancers.  Placing mankind’s relationship to the environment at its core, Birth of the Phoenix (2004) abandoned the theater for the outdoors, with the dancers performing on a dirt ground under a geodesic dome.

In June, Vertigo performed a trilogy of recent works – the iconic Birth of the Phoenix, the supremely energetic White Noise (2008), and the magnificent Mana (2009) – at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. Now the company is bringing these three stellar dances to the Suzanne Dellal Center as part of the SummerDance 2010 festival with performances running from August 2 to August 4.   As a bonus, the performance of White Noise on June 3 will be followed by a meeting with the artists.

Want to learn more about this unique group?  Here are several videos with footage of interviews at the Eco-Art Village and the dances from the trilogy as well as Vertigo and Noa Wertheim’s appearance at the TedxTelAviv event.

Below is a video about Vertigo Dance Company’s Eco-Art Village, with brief clips primarily of Noa Wertheim’s Birth of the Phoenix.

In this next video, artistic directors Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al as well as some of Vertigo’s dancers talk about working in the Eco-Art Village. Many of the dance excerpts are from Wertheim’s White Noise.

Vertigo and Noa Wertheim were part of TedxTelAviv, which was held on April 26, 2010 at the Jaffa port.  The video below includes an excerpt from White Noise, followed by Wertheim discussing her move to the Eco-Art Village and her philosophy. The video closes with an excerpt of Mana.

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Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2010

Posted on 07 July 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2009

“My personal aim is to really create an Impulstanz type of workshop program in Israel,” says Barak Marshall, choreographer and artistic director of Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues.  “Ideally, that’s really where I want to take this festival.  I think it’s necessary, and I think that the time is right for us to have an international dance festival.”

It’s an ambitious goal, but as Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues grows and evolves each year, it’s also one that is perfectly logical and increasingly attainable.

From its start, Bridge was centered on building strong international connections.  In 2006, Miki Yerushalmi of the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership approached Barak Marshall about creating a dance program.  Marshall, who currently splits his time between the two cities, recruited UCLA and the Suzanne Dellal Center as partners and developed what he calls a “choreographic exchange program.”  During the summers of 2007, 2008, and 2009, L.A.-based choreographers – often working in diverse forms absent from the Israeli scene, such as hip-hop and kathak dance – traveled to Tel Aviv to teach two-week workshops with Israeli dancers.  Meanwhile, in May 2008, Ronit Ziv, Niv Sheinfeld, and Idan Cohen shared their artistry with L.A. dancers in a similar intensive.  Plans are in the works for more Israeli choreographers to teach and perform in L.A. in the future.

Here in Israel, the Bridge summer course is becoming an annual highlight of the Tel Aviv’s bustling dance scene, providing an infusion of wide-ranging workshops with a world-renowned visiting faculty.  This summer, about 100 dancers – including 5 students from the prestigious CalArts dance department, a handful of other dancers from the U.S. and Europe, and tens of Israelis from around the country – are expected to study with the most international roster of teachers yet.  “I really wanted to for a very long time bring a more European influence into the course,” explains Marshall of his decision to expand the faculty from its original L.A. base.  Among this year’s teachers are Damien Jalet, who has risen to prominence as a choreographer within the Belgian collective Les Ballets C. de la B. and as the co-director of Eastman alongside Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; Lisi Estradas, a Spanish-trained former Batsheva Ensemble dancer who also works with Les Ballets C. de la B.; and Michal Mualem, who danced with several local choreographers before joining Sasha Waltz & Guests and creating her own productions with her partner Giannalberto de Filippis.  “These are 3 international and incredible artists, and I went very consciously after them to come and do the course,” Marshall reflects.

Further adding international flavor to this year’s Bridge are South Korean choreographer Chuck Park, the Paris Opera Ballet’s Bruno Bouché, and Caracas Ballet founder Maria Barrios Zaks.  Even the teachers who are fixtures on the local scene, like Naomi Perlov, Jay Augen, and Marshall himself, boast a significant record of international work.

The diversity of the faculty pays dividends for Bridge’s dancers.  “What I’m really trying to expose the dancers to are just a myriad of different ways of moving, a myriad of vocabularies and knowledges,” states Marshall.  Classes in ballet, contemporary technique, and contemporary repertory as well as choreographic workshops allow dancers to work with multiple teachers, sample a variety of styles, and broaden their horizons.  With this particular select faculty, even a single teacher may expose dancers to a range of movement.  Marshall highlights Jalet’s “cross-cultural approach,” marveling that he and Cherkaoui mix “theater with ethnic movement with release with acrobatics; it’s just endless, the world he brings!”

Besides expanding the participants’ physical abilities, Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2010 will challenge dancers to develop their artistry as active members of the choreographic process.  Marshall remarks, “The emphasis this year is the dancer as creator . . . these other choreographers really have a very democratic and dancer-as-creator mode of creation, so what I hope to really offer to the participants is to open their eyes to their abilities as a creator, not just as an interpreter.”  Furthermore, Marshall notes that Bridge has served as a launching pad for dancers’ careers, enabling them to meet both local and visiting choreographers and fostering strong professional connections.  Marshall himself has found several dancers for his recent works Monger and Rooster through Bridge.

The stimulating interaction runs both ways, with not only the dancers but also the choreographers benefiting from the mix of participants and approaches.  Most of all, Marshall explains, foreign choreographers who have taught at Bridge have discovered what he calls “the wow of the Israeli dancer and the Israeli artist and the Israeli soul.”  He elaborates, “Everybody who has participated in the three previous workshops came with their own preconceptions of Israel, first of all, and consequently of the Israeli dancer, from their limited knowledge.  I know that everybody has gone away with this deep impression about the power of Israeli dancers.  And I’m always very, very proud of that; I think that Israeli dancers offer something [that is] so powerful and overwhelming and all-encompassing.”

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