Tag Archive | "Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center"

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The Paul Taylor Dance Company Comes to Israel

Posted on 26 April 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Paul Taylor Dance Company

I have to admit I have a soft spot for Paul Taylor.  After spending twelve years immersed in ballet, I made the switch to modern dance in college, where the classes I took from Julie Strandberg were strongly influenced by Taylor’s technique. During both my undergraduate and graduate years, I had the good fortune to study with former Taylor dancers including Carolyn Adams and Victoria Uris. And through videos and concerts, I became acquainted with some of Taylor’s remarkable repertory. Now that the Paul Taylor Dance Company is touring to Israel, I’m looking forward to feasting my eyes on what promises to be a memorable mixed bill.

My preview of the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Israeli tour was originally published in the Jerusalem Post as “A Poet of the Body.”

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A Poet of the Body

Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire.  Photo by Lois Greenfield.

Paul Taylor has come a long way since being dubbed as the “naughty boy” of dance by legendary modern dance pioneer Martha Graham. Over fifty years after shocking the American concert dance establishment with his avant-garde choreography, Taylor is regularly met with monikers of a different sort. Vanity Fair anointed him in 2004 as “the greatest choreographer in the world,” praise which has frequently been echoed by dance critics across the globe. Now Israeli audiences have a chance to see the famed dancemaker’s wares when the Paul Taylor Dance Company tours to Petach Tikva, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.

Taylor made his first forays into choreography while still performing for Graham, and since his company’s debut in 1954, he has created an astonishing 131 dances. Yet far more impressive than the sheer number of his works is the high caliber of his artistic output. After Taylor’s initial experiments – which included one infamous four-minute piece composed purely of stillness – he developed a rich signature movement language and trained his company to dance with a special quality that might be described as weighted ease. His works are infused with this physical imprint as well as a keen sense of composition and a marvelously nuanced musicality. And whether abstract in nature or more specifically outfitted with settings and characters, Taylor’s dances wield a rare communicative power, speaking of and to the human spirit.

Taylor’s extensive body of work traverses an exceptionally wide thematic range, covers a full spectrum of moods, and boasts a broad array of musical accompaniment. This multifaceted diversity will be on display in the PTDC’s performances in Israel with a stellar line-up of three distinctive dances: Changes, Piazzolla Caldera, and Promethean Fire.

Paul Taylor’s Changes. Photo by Paul B. Goode.

Created in 2008, Changes hearkens back to an earlier era as evoked by the songs of the popular 1960s vocal group The Mamas and the Papas. Clad in bell-bottoms and hippie-style tops covered in psychedelic prints, the dancers start in a colorfully lit club atmosphere. Social dance crazes like the pony and the monkey blend seamlessly into Taylor’s own vocabulary as the cast moves through the highs – drug-induced and otherwise – and the lows of the time. Teetering and tilting, the group is swept across the stage by the winds of change.

Paul Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera.  Photo by Paul B. Goode.

Piazzolla Caldera (1997) transports the dancers to another atmosphere entirely, one inspired by a tango salon. Set to the music of renowned Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky, a Polish composer best known for his tangos, Piazzolla Caldera is laced with passion. Drawing from the traditional steps of the tango as well as his personal style, Taylor pairs off his dancers and sends the couples into deep dips and swirling turns. Feisty flicks of the foot and sharper accents are juxtaposed with smooth, legato stretches. This sultry mix has proved to be a winning formula, enlivening a documentary that was made during the work’s creation and subsequently capturing the hearts of audiences and critics alike.

Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire.  Photo by Lois Greenfield.

Yet it is Promethean Fire (2002) that is this triple bill’s crowning glory. Hailed by the New York Times’s Anna Kisselgoff as “one of the best works choreographed by Paul Taylor,” Promethean Fire does indeed feature some of Taylor’s finest craftsmanship. The choreographer artfully maneuvers his sixteen-member ensemble across the stage, alternately carving sweeping curves and striking lines through the space before assembling the dancers in stunning sculptural group formations. Taylor’s formal composition suits the grand orchestral score by J.S. Bach, and although the work is abstract, the dance is exceptionally moving, leaving the viewer with a sense of renewal.

Watching a more classically tailored masterpiece like Promethean Fire, it’s hard to imagine that Paul Taylor ever caused such scandal with his choreography. But while he has reinvented himself from the mischievous rebel to the celebrated master of modern dance, one characteristic has remained constant in Taylor’s evolving artistry: his uncommon ability to stir the audience’s emotions.

More Information

The Paul Taylor Dance Company performs at Heichal HaTarbut in Petach Tikva on April 27th, the Haifa Auditorium on April 28th, the Jerusalem Theater on April 29th, and at the Opera House in Tel Aviv from May 1-4. Tickets (149-299 NIS) are available at 03-9125222 (Petach Tikva), 04-8418411 (Haifa), 02-6237000 (Jerusalem), and 03-6927777 (Tel Aviv).

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“West Side Story” in the Middle East

Posted on 06 September 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

West Side Story

West Side Story.  Courtesy of Ora Lapidot.

Though I typically write about contemporary dance, I branched out to do an article about the musical West Side Story for the Jerusalem Post.  I always enjoy interviewing people involved with the production for these newspaper articles, and for this story, I got a treat: two interviews!

First I spoke with resident director Mascha Pörzgen, who gave me some great background about this revival of the classic Broadway production.  Then I had a stimulating conversation with Scott Sussman, who told me enthusiastically about his path to playing Tony.  We also spoke about the history of West Side Story and marveled at Jerome Robbins’ connection to dance in Israel (Robbins, who directed and choreographed the original West Side Story, was sent by the America Israel Foundation to check out the young country’s dance scene in 1951; upon his recommendation, American choreographer Anna Sokolow came to coach the Inbal Dance Theater).

After talking with both Mascha and Scott, I couldn’t wait to see West Side Story – and since attending the preview last week, I’ve been constantly humming the musical’s memorable tunes.  You can catch the run of West Side Story at the Opera House through the 14th.

This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post.

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West Side Story in the Middle East

West Side Story has always been very special to me because it’s actually the score that I grew up on, and it’s how I learned to sing . . . I’ve been singing “Maria” every day of my life since I was 14 years old,” Scott Sussman reveals.  For the last few years, Sussman has been singing “Maria” onstage while playing Tony in an international tour of West Side Story – and from September 2-14, he’ll be singing “Maria” here in Israel when the production comes to Tel Aviv’s Opera House.

Since its premiere on Broadway in 1957, West Side Story has won audience’s hearts with its modern twist on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet.  With New York street gangs replacing the Montagues and Capulets, and with ethnic tensions rather than family rivalries, the protagonists’ love story became not just tragic but relevant for contemporary viewers.

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MOMIX Brings its Best to Israel

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Best of MOMIX tours Israel this July.

Most of the choreographers I’ve interviewed here in Israel are, of course, Israeli.  But since I’ve been freelancing more as a dance writer, I’ve had some great opportunities to interview choreographers from abroad whose companies are touring to Tel Aviv.

MOMIX is the next major dance troupe which will travel through town, and a few weeks ago I enjoyed a lively Skype conversation with the company’s founder, Moses Pendleton.  After sorting through a half-hour’s worth of worthy material – a difficult task when your interview subject is thoughtful, well-spoken, and quite witty – I wrote “Momixian Fantasy,” which was published the Jerusalem Post on June 25, 2009.

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Momixian Fantasy

‘You never know when you’re going to be attacked by an idea,” says choreographer Moses Pendleton.  Israeli audiences will get to see several of Pendleton’s highly original ideas when his Connecticut-based company, MOMIX, tours Best of MOMIX to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba in July.  The program is, according to Pendleton, “a compilation of several highlights from several programs put together like a rock music album.”

Few dance companies can pull off a greatest hits show – but MOMIX can.  Over its 29-year history, the company has produced a string of works that are not only successful but wildly inventive.  Best of MOMIX features eye-catching excerpts from Lunar Sea, Opus Cactus, Momix in Orbit and the company’s latest creation, Botanica.

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Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in Tel Aviv: Ballet for the 21st Century

Posted on 18 June 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Altro Canto

Dance history buff that I am, I was thrilled when I got to interview Jean-Christophe Maillot.  Why?  He directs Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, which in some ways carries on the legacy of the legendary Ballets Russes.  Yet even with these rich historical roots (or perhaps because of them), this top-notch company presents decidedly 21st-century work.  Read on to understand why!

This article was first published as “A Midsummer Dream” in the Jerusalem Post on June 14th, 2009.

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“Each time I go to a new country, I always go with a tremendous hope that what we will bring is completely different – because the environment is different, because the culture is different, because the history of the country is different,” explains Jean-Christophe Maillot, choreographer for Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.

Since 1993, the French-born choreographer has led Monaco’s world-renowned dance company on tours around the globe.  Yet for Maillot and most of the troupe’s 46 dancers, the company’s performances at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center will mark their first visit to Israel – and Maillot is looking forward to it.

Maillot’s hope may well be fulfilled on this tour.  Firmly rooted in the classical ballet tradition while moving forward with a distinctly contemporary style of choreography, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo is indeed different from much of Israel’s dance scene.  This contrast should prove exciting not only for Maillot, but for Israeli audiences as well.

Though it may seem paradoxical, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo’s freshness stems from a rich history.  Monaco’s ballet tradition stretches back to the early decades of the 20th century, when Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev brought his famed Ballets Russes to Monte Carlo.  The ground-breaking company dissolved when Diaghilev died in 1929, but it was reconstituted three years later by Colonel de Basil and Rene Blum.  Conflicts between the directors led to a split, and under Blum’s leadership, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo continued to win praise with its cast of star dancers and inventive choreographers.

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Tel Aviv Dance 2008

Posted on 22 October 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Excertps from Barak Marshall’s new dance, Monger.

Tel Aviv Dance 2008 is bringing companies from all over the world to stages throughout the city from October 23 to November 22. This weekend is the premiere of Barak Marshall’s highly anticipated Monger at the Suzanne Dellal Center.  The L.A.-based Marshall – who has lived in both Israel and in the U.S., where he most recently has been affiliated with UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures – stopped choreographing 8 years ago after an injury. His choreography in the 1990s generated a major buzz in Israel and garnered several awards, so devoted dance-goers here will likely flock to the theater for this event.

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