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