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More on Maholohet: A Hot Summer of Dance Continues

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Aviv Eveguy’s Dimona will show at Maholohet on August 4

Yes, I know, I already posted one article about Maholohet (SummerDance).  But some people might need a reminder that there’s still one month left of nearly nightly performances at Suzanne Dellal, and perhaps those of you who are abroad would like to hear a bit more about this Israeli summer tradition.

Although I was lucky enough to see many of the festival’s offerings earlier this season, several of this summer’s works were new (or new to me), and so in July I found myself walking over to Suzanne Dellal a few times a week.  One of the standouts so far was Yoram Karmi and Uri Morag’s Man, Woman, Reflections, with its brilliant use of swinging lamps, illuminating projections, and clever choreography involving innovative sets.  The two-part Under by Matanicola and Yasmeen Godder also delivered a punch with its intense atmosphere and powerful performances.  And just this week, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s Rushes caught my eye with images that were simple, striking, and sustained for just the right amount of time.

Even if you’ve missed these concerts, there’s still plenty to come!  Read on to see what else will heat up the stage this summer – all of the works I’ve mentioned below will be performed during August.

The article below was first published as “Some Summer Spice” in the Jerusalem Post on July 12, 2009.

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Some Summer Spice

Even the numbers of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s SummerDance Festival are impressive: eight weeks of concerts, 76 performances, 11 premieres and one group of special guests from abroad. But what’s behind the statistics – an exceptionally diverse assortment of dance – is even more extraordinary.

SummerDance 2009 (Maholohet, a play on the phrase “hot dance” in Hebrew) has showcased the wealth of Israeli concert dance since its inception 13 years ago.  What started as a three-week festival gradually expanded, and now, with the Suzanne Dellal Center celebrating its 20th anniversary, SummerDance is having its hottest season yet.

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Remembering Big Performances at Suzanne Dellal’s Big Stage

Posted on 19 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Barak Marshall's "Monger"

Barak Marshall’s Monger.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

This summer has already been so packed with festivals and performances that I have barely had time to reflect, but I figured it’s high time that I post an article I wrote at the end of Suzanne Dellal’s Big Stage.

I’ve been to numerous festivals since moving to Israel, but the Big Stage stands head and shoulders above many others in my mind.  There was something magical about the festival’s outdoor setting, and each impressively large-scale performance brought its own theatrical marvels to the already enchanting space.  Further adding to my enthusiasm about the festival was the dual reason for its existence: Tel Aviv’s centennial and Suzanne Dellal’s 20th anniversary.  It’s pretty hard to top that!

I first published the article below as “Big Performances” in the Forward on June 19, 2009.  Read on to get a sense of what this spectacular festival was like – or to refresh your own memories of this momentous event.

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Big Performances

An eager crowd took its seats high above the Suzanne Dellal Center’s plaza for the opening of the three-week festival Habama Hagdola — The Big Stage.  Two majestic palm trees framed the large outdoor stage, and the center’s main building provided a picturesque backdrop.  A glance around revealed the impressive scenery of the first century of Tel Aviv: quaint red-roofed homes of the Neve Tzedek neighborhood overtaken within a few blocks by modern skyscrapers.

But it was the action onstage that captured the audience’s gaze.  Rooted in a wide stance, five women grabbed their heads and raised their arms in exasperation.  Rocking vigorously in place, they performed a series of intricate gestures. Even the smallest motion — a lift of the hip, a tilt of the chin — was delivered with attitude.  The movement grew, the pace quickened, and the tension built as five men approached the women.

This nuanced, lively dance — Barak Marshall’s Monger — was only part of the excitement onstage.  The popular band Balkan Beat Box lent its infectious rhythms and hypnotic vocals to the choreographic excerpts.  As the dance and live music mixed, Marshall recounted, “the energy on the stage was explosive and surprising.”

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Tel Aviv’s 100th + Suzanne Dellal’s 20th = The Big Stage

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

The Big Stage at Suzanne Dellal

Photo of the Big Stage by Ariel Besor.

Something big is about to happen.  It’s the biggest cultural draw in town from May 14 until June 6th.  And fittingly, it’s titled Habama Hagdola: The Big Stage.

This isn’t the first time that the plaza of the Suzanne Dellal Center has been turned into a massive, open air theater.  The pictures in this post show a previous transformation from a few years ago.  But this time around, the construction of the Big Stage is marking something truly huge: the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv and the 20th anniversary of the Suzanne Dellal Center, Israel’s premiere center for dance.

To celebrate both of these occasions, the Big Stage (sometimes translated as the Great Stage) will present some of Israel’s top dance companies and musical groups as well as world-renowned troupes from abroad.  The opening night combines both art forms in a special performance by Balkan Beat Box, with excerpts from Barak Marshall’s “Monger” that are set to music by the popular Israeli band.  As part of the festivities, Yair Vardi, Suzanne Dellal’s director, will receive an award from the Foreign Ministry for his contribution to the field of Israeli dance.

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

Posted on 13 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


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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International Exposure 2008: Day 1

Posted on 20 January 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(Video: Batsheva Dance Company in Sharon Eyal’s Makarova Kabisa)

Tonight, International Exposure 2008 – a showcase of the year’s new creations by Israeli choreographers – will open at the Suzanne Dellal Center.  With performances by the Tararam Group as well as two works by Sharon Eyal, I suspect that the evening will start with a bang in the literal and figurative sense (that’s good, in case you’re not familiar with the English turn of phrase).

“Tararam” translates to “hubbub,” and from the description on the group’s website, I’m expecting something in the same vein as Stomp.  Then Talia Paz will perform Eyal’s One Leg Barbie before the Batsheva Dance Company takes the stage in Eyal’s Makarova Kabisa, which mixes ballet and African-influenced movements to throbbing beats spun by a live DJ.

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