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Amir Kolben’s “Gates of Jerusalem” – Dancing the Real Jerusalem

Posted on 10 February 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Gates of Jerusalem

Amir Kolben’s Gates of Jerusalem.  Photo by Uri Nevo.

A version of this article, titled “Dancing Amongst Walls,” was published in the Jerusalem Post‘s “Billboard” entertainment guide on February 6, 2009.

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What is the “real Jerusalem”?

To choreographer Amir Kolben, the real Jerusalem is “a city of tensions, between being holy and being profane, between high and low, between dangerous and wonderful places, between dirty markets and serenity.  It’s so extreme,” he says, “I find the city lives within these tensions of so many things.”

It is this view of the world’s holiest city that Kolben will present onstage in his latest dance, The Gates of Jerusalem.  Intrigued by mayor Nir Barkat’s vision of ten million visitors ascending to Jerusalem each year, Kolben sought to create a complex portrait which stretches beyond the images that glorify the city to tourists.  His contemporary choreography also challenges stereotypes of Israeli dance.  While many foreigners may associate this country with folk dance, Israel boasts a thriving concert dance scene.

Kolben is more equipped than most Israeli choreographers to tackle the topic of Jerusalem.  With its many theaters, festivals, and studios, Tel Aviv is the center of the country’s dance activity and the home for most dance companies.  Yet Kolben has based his group, Kolben Dance, in Jerusalem since its inception twelve years ago.  It might be easier to live in the country’s artistic capital, but Kolben notes that despite the conveniences of Tel Aviv, he feels he belongs more in the “deeper, spiritual city of Jerusalem.”

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Hofesh Shechter & Talia Paz: Israelis abroad, Israelis at home

Posted on 31 October 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Hofesh Shechter ‘Uprising’ from Martin French on Vimeo.
A video excerpt of Hofesh Shechter’s Uprising.

In recent years, Israeli contemporary dance has stretched far beyond Israel’s borders as companies embarked on international tours and as some Israeli choreographers created artistic homes for themselves abroad.  Didn’t realize how much Israeli dancers were moving around the globe?  Consider the performing schedules of Hofesh Shechter and Talia Paz, two artists who will be featured later in Tel Aviv Dance 2008 (see our Events page for listings).

Hofesh Shechter’s U.K.-based company will be onstage at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on November 11-12, while Israeli-based Talia Paz will perform at the Suzanne Dellal Center on November 20-21 in a work by Sharon Eyal.  Besides participating in the Tel Aviv Dance 2008 festival, they also appeared in New York for City Center’s popular Fall for Dance series in September – and in between these two events, Shechter’s troupe made several stops in the U.K., Spain, and Germany.

Dance In Israel was online in a beta version this summer and early autumn, and I wrote the post below about Fall for Dance prior to the blog’s renovation.

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For the last few years, City Center’s Fall for Dance series has given New York audiences the opportunity to sample offerings from a wide variety of companies and choreographers. Forget traditional programming; this is the chance to see ballet and butoh on the same bill. I was tempted to forgo packing and trek to the theater for this spread of dance, especially because of appearances by Talia Paz and Hofesh Shechter, but my aliyah schedule made it impossible to attend the performances (it’s official: I am an olah hadasha!). However, there are some reports available from other sources which I have compiled below:

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