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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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Barak Marshall’s “Rooster”

Posted on 05 February 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Barak Marshall’s Rooster

Another guest at International Exposure 2009, Talia Baruch, covers the San Francisco-area dance scene for her blog GoSee– Dance. She wrote some reviews of dances she saw here in Israel in December for her website and is generously sharing them here on Dance In Israel.

Talia’s third article is about Barak Marshall’s Rooster, which was a hit at both Tel Aviv Dance 2009 and International Exposure 2009.  Read below to learn more rich background about Rooster and to hear Talia’s take on the work.

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International Exposure 2009 — Suzanne Dellal Center | Barak Marshall

By Talia Baruch


Co-production of Israeli Opera and the Suzanne Dellal Center

Choreography: Barak Marshall | Costume Design: Maor Zabar | Set Design: Sergey Berezin | Lighting Design: Felice Ross | Photography: Avi Avin & Kfir Bolotin | Guest Artist: Margalit Oved | Soprano: Lilia Gretsova | Review & Copywriting: Talia Baruch

This dance-theater piece is based on I.L. Peretz’s Bontsha the Silent, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and on stories from the Bible and Yemenite folklore.

“Here on earth the death of Bontsha the Silent made no impression at all. Ask anyone: Who was Bontsha, how did he live, and how did he die? Did his strength slowly fade, did his heart slowly give out, or did the very marrow of his bones melt under the weight of his burdens? Who knows?

Bontsha was a human being; he lived unknown, in silence, and in silence he died. He passed through our world like a shadow. When Bontsha was born no one took a drink of wine; there was no sound of glasses clinking. When he was confirmed he made no speech of celebration. He existed like a grain of sand at the rim of a vast ocean, amid millions of other grains of sand exactly similar, and when the wind at last lifted him up and carried him across to the other shore of that ocean, no one noticed, no one at all.”

I.L. Peretz, from Bontsha the Silent

After watching a bounty of dance performances back-to-back at the 2009 International Exposure Dance Festival/Suzanne Dellal Center, it was Rooster that hit home and made me go see the show a second time the following week.

Barak Marshall’s Rooster. Photo by Kfir Bolotin.

Rooster opens with the night chirps of grasshoppers and ends with the twitter of morning birds.  The events unfold in & out one night.  One night that digests interactions in a Kafkan sequence, that throws in the mix Theater of the Absurd, Vaudeville and Greek Mythology, that reels in Balkan, Gypsy, Middle-Eastern and American-Yiddish tunes, all mashed up into one burning stew.

The show reveals a man’s subconscious stream of thoughts under the spell of a dream.  And trailing through this flow of feverish thoughts is the vivid image of the Rooster, which also means Gever (“man”) in Hebrew.  The allusion to the story of I.L. Peretz’ Bontsha the Silent, implies Barak’s appeal for self-assertion: “trust your desires and act on them.”

The Rooster, with its flamboyant erected cockscomb and fluttering feathers — pecking, idling, roosting, kakadoodledooing — mirrors the villagers: their rapacious jealousy, pestering gossip, vaunting vanity.

And in all that chaos of color and cruelty and caring, of plucked feathers, warm embraces and longing to our womb roots, there lays the connection between hen and human. Being chicken — fearful; plucking feathers — slaughter; Tarnegol Kaparot — sacrifice (the Jewish ritual of sacrificing a rooster for atonement); and the forever existential loop: Which came first, chicken or egg?

Barak Marshall’s Rooster. Photo by Avi Avin.

Barak Marshall was born in Los Angeles to a Yemenite Israeli performer — Margalit Oved — founder of the Inbal Theater Dance Company. Barak, a true auteur, nursed on the rich brew of his cultural diversity. In his creative work, he draws themes, flavors and voices from the exotic ingredients that nourish his roots. He peppers his staged art with implied Jewish heritage, Yemenite folklore and biblical text, like the excerpt noting the twelve tribes (this piece is written for twelve dancers).

Barak created Rooster for the 2009 Tel Aviv Dance Festival, after the great success of his former piece — Monger — featured at the 2008 Tel Aviv Dance Festival.

Talia Baruch is a writer and translator covering the dance/theater scene in San Francisco, where she has been living for the past 11 years. She is the founder of Copyous, providing creative copywriting and Localization Strategies. The ingredients that shaped her life are the explosive dance scene in urban Tel Aviv, where she grew up, the pea-green English country side, where she inhaled a handsome amount of fresh-manure & horseback-countered through endless woods, and the 24/7 Localization/Internationalization business bustle, that put perspective to it all. www.copyous.com

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What is Israeli Dance? Two Festivals Hold Some Clues

Posted on 17 November 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

What is Israeli dance?

This is a question that I have contemplated ever since I arrived here, and as I sat in the audience at many performances during the Tel Aviv Dance 2009 festival, this query resurfaced. The vast majority of dance I have seen in the last two years has been Israeli dance – that is, by my loose definition, dance made in Israel by Israeli choreographers – but most of what I attended during this festival came from abroad.

As my eyes readjusted to fresh work from unfamiliar choreographers and, at times, unfamiliar cultures, I couldn’t help comparing the characteristics of these foreign productions to those of Israeli-made work.  By watching dance that was, by virtue of its far away origin, not Israeli, could I more definitively identify characteristics of Israeli dance and the Israeli dance scene?  As I sat in the darkened theater for show after show, I asked myself repeatedly, “Could an Israeli choreographer have made that work? Would an Israeli choreographer have made that work, and if so, would I have perceived it differently?”

Beijing Modern Dance Company

Beijing Modern Dance Company.  Photo by Wang Zhe.

This last question echoed in my mind, growing louder and louder, as I watched the Beijing Modern Dance Company’s program at the Suzanne Dellal Center.  More so than in the other performances I saw, I felt that this program’s two works were rife with cultural references specific to the country in which they were created.  In the fourth section of Hu Lei’s Unfettered Journey, dancers clothed in elegantly draped fabric flowed across the stage with fans in their hands.  Throughout Gao Yanjinzi’s Oath, a figure wearing what appeared to be traditional Chinese dress beckoned dancers representing parts of the natural world onstage to music that at times sounded distinctively Chinese.  Had an Israeli choreographer’s name been attached to either of these works, these elements would not have been allusions to his or her own culture but instead marks of appropriation (and here I do not intend to attach a negative value to that often loaded word; this simply denotes a different process and point of connection to the elements incorporated)

While these overt references to Chinese culture set my mind in motion, it was the physicality of the dancers in the Beijing Modern Dance Company which triggered even more complex thoughts about what characterizes much of Israeli contemporary dance.  Throughout my conversations with Israeli choreographers, many of them asserted that there was something distinctive about the physicality of Israeli dancers; there was a certain emphasis on weight, force, and power, along with a liveliness and rawness to their energy which several people connected to the pace and nature of Israeli life.

Sometimes, immersed in this scene, it’s possible to forget that another way of moving exists.  So there’s nothing like watching companies from abroad to sharpen my understanding of the physicality used in Israeli dance.  Whereas Israeli dancers are often unleashed and explosive, the Chinese dancers were refined and measured.  Whereas Israeli dancers often project a sense of solid strength and weighted groundedness in deep, low positions, the Chinese dancers assumed these postures with the poised agility of a martial artist.  Whereas Israeli dancers may display and even revel in effort, the Chinese dancers exuded ease.  “Yes,” I thought to myself as I sat in the darkened theater.  “Maybe a particular physicality does characterize much of Israeli dance and distinguish it from dance from other countries.”

While these musings re-entered my mind as I watched foreign companies in Tel Aviv Dance, they’ll likely remain ever-present as I attend a very different festival later this month: Curtain Up.  Every year, Curtain Up sheds light on Israeli dance by showcasing several programs worth of premieres by independent choreographers.  Throughout the twenty years of its existence, the festival has not only provided a platform for numerous artists to explore new choreographic ideas but also offered them a boost to prominence, thus shaping the landscape of the larger field.

Curtain Up Poster

Publicity for Curtain Up 2009.  Courtesy of Ora Lapidot PR.

In honor of the festival’s twentieth season, Curtain Up 2009 will offer an extraordinary opportunity to survey the scene through a special project spanning the generations of Israeli choreographers.  Six well-established artists who were previously supported by the festival – Nimrod Freed, Noa Wertheim of Vertigo Dance Company, Yasmeen Godder, Yaara Dolev of Tel Aviv Dance Company, Noa Dar, and Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor  – were chosen to create new works for this special Curtain Up.  They also became curators of the festival, in turn selecting one or two emerging choreographers to premiere work.

After refreshing my eyes and my mind with Tel Aviv Dance’s international medley, I’m looking forward to re-immersing myself in the world of Israeli dance during Curtain Up.  Who knows what insights will surface in the theater this time around . . .

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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.


"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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Tel Aviv Dance 2009 Mixes Global and Local Dance

Posted on 17 October 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Rite of Spring Compagnie Heddy Maalem in Rite of Spring.  Photo by Patrick Fabre.

Tel Aviv used to host a popular festival called Dance Europa, attracting cutting-edge companies from across Europe.  Three years ago, the festival expanded to include offerings from around the globe, and now the annual Tel Aviv Dance festival is a highlight of the city’s cultural season.  Tel Aviv Dance 2009 runs from October 16 until November 13, with shows at the Suzanne Dellal Center and the Tel Aviv Opera House.  To find out more details about performances, please visit the Dance In Israel Calendars.

A version of this article, titled “Hot Dance for Cold Evenings,” was published in the Jerusalem Post.

Hot Dance for Cold Evenings

“Everyone wants to come to Tel Aviv. Everyone wants to perform here,” says Yair Vardi, director of the Suzanne Dellal Center.  Judging by the roster of world-renowned dance productions about to descend on the city, Vardi’s boast is not an exaggeration.  In the last few years, the annual Tel Aviv Dance festival has become a destination for both rising stars and well-established names on the international circuit.  Now, Tel Aviv Dance 2009 will mount fourteen programs at the Suzanne Dellal Center and the Tel Aviv Opera House. A special initiative will bring three of these concerts to Haifa as well.

This year’s schedule of performers is particularly diverse, both in geographic origin and in aesthetic.  Here’s the lineup:


Video: Tania Liedtke’s Construct.

From far-off Australia comes Tania Liedtke’s Construct, which pairs power tools and physical prowess to comedic effect.

North America

Nacho Duato's "Gnawa"

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Nacho Duato’s Gnawa. Photo: public relations.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago offers a taste of American contemporary dance with repertory by Jim Vincent and Alejandro Cerruda.  This popular troupe adds a bit of foreign spice with Gnawa, a dance by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato set to intoxicating North African rhythms.


Other productions have a similar international mix, including two which involve European countries.

Video: Heddy Maalem’s Rite of Spring.

Although Compagnie Heddy Maalem hails from France, the fourteen dancers in its rousing Rite of Spring are from Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, and Guadeloupe.

Video: Andalucia Lejana is choreographed by Victoria Eugenia, Manolo Marin, Silvia Duran, and Yoko Komatsubara

Meanwhile, the flamenco flavored Andalucia Lejana is a collaboration by four choreographers with dancers from Spain, Japan, and Israel.

Ballet Nacional de Espana

Ballet Nacional de España.  Photo: public relations

Flamenco assumes center stage again in Ballet Nacional de España’s program, featuring fifty dancers and musicians.  The troupe is performing Jose Antonio’s La Leyenda and Aires de Villa y Corte.

Video: Yoshua Cienfuegos’s Cisnes Negros.

Also from Spain is Cienfuegos Danza, whose director Yoshua Cienfuegos takes a dark look at our animal instincts in his contemporary Cisnes Negros.

Last Touch First

Michael Schumacher and Jiri Kylian’s Last Touch First.  Photo by Robert Benschop.

Europe’s strong presence in this festival is rounded out by Last Touch First, a production from the Netherlands. On a stage strewn with sheets, six dancers move in slow motion through Michael Schumacher and Jiri Kylian’s spellbinding choreography.


Several choreographers and companies from Asia are also making an appearance at this year’s Tel Aviv Dance.

My Dream

Wang Honghai’s My Dream showcases the riches of Chinese dance and music, but with a twist: the work is performed by nearly 100 members of the China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe.


Beijing Modern Dance Company.  Photo by Wang Zhe.

The Beijing Modern Dance Company, China’s premiere modern dance company, displays a more adventurous style in Gao Yanjinzi’s Oath and Hu Lei’s Unfettered Journey.

Video: Shang Chi-Sun & Dancers

Taiwanese choreographer Shang Chi-Sun offers two more contemporary works, Nuwa and Dialogue II.

Video: A mixed bill by three Korean choreographers

Three Korean choreographers who won the 2008 Choreographic Festival at Seoul are sharing a mixed bill.  Ryu Seouk Hun presents Uncomfortable, Huh Kyung Mi offers Evolution, and Lee In Soo shows Modern Feeling.


Amidst this select global spread of top-notch choreography, it is a testament to Israeli dance that three programs in the festival are wholly devoted to work made locally. Batsheva Dance Company, which arguably has the greatest international reputation of any Israeli group, presents two contrasting concerts by artistic director Ohad Naharin.

Video: Ohad Naharin’s Hora.

Hora, Naharin’s most recent work, is danced to Isao Tomita’s synthesized versions of familiar melodies and performed against a vivid green set.  Naharin’s Mamootot offers an altogether different viewing experience as audience members surround the dancers in the studio.

Video: Barak Marshall’s Rooster.

Barak Marshall’s Monger was a hit in last year’s festival, and now he is returning with a new production, Rooster.  Twelve powerhouse dancers, one opera singer, and Margalit Oved – the legendary Inbal Dance Theater star and Marshall’s mother – trace a narrative inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Y.L. Peretz’s “Bontsha the Silent.”  This mix of talent, combined with Marshall’s masterful storytelling and marvelously multi-layered movement, sets Rooster on a pathway to success – and premiering in Tel Aviv Dance doesn’t hurt either.  Reflecting on his second Tel Aviv Dance experience, Marshall muses gratefully, “This is a twice in a lifetime opportunity I’ve been given!”

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