Posted on 14 November 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili
Video: The Project in Emanuel Gat’s Through the Center
Although repertory companies once dominated the Israeli modern dance scene, troupes showcasing work by one or two contemporary choreographers have reigned supreme from the 1990s onwards. But repertory is returning to the Israeli concert stage with The Project, a cooperative venture by the Suzanne Dellal Centre and the Israeli Opera.
The Project. Photo by Eyal Landesman.
The Project benefits from an experienced creative team. Yair Vardi, director of Suzanne Dellal, and Hannah Munitz, general director of the Israeli Opera, are serving as artistic directors, and the manager is Mate Moray, a former soloist with the Israel Ballet who also directs the dance program in Matan. More than 260 dancers auditioned, and 13 were selected to participate in The Project.
For the last several months, the newly formed group trained together in ballet and learned three dances by choreographers based in Europe: Emanuel Gat’s Through the Center, Jacopo Godani’s Light Years, and Marco Goeke’s Supernova. Although the repertory draws on the clean lines and technical virtuosity of ballet, each work has a distinctive, contemporary feel. Audiences can enjoy the spread of dance when The Project debuts at the Opera House in Tel Aviv on November 30. A repeat performance will be held on December 10, also at the Opera House.
On my first full day in Israel nearly two and a half years ago, I made a pilgrimage to the Suzanne Dellal Center. Although I didn’t yet grasp the scope of the complex’s activities, I had heard that this was the epicenter of the Israeli contemporary dance scene, and that was enough to make me wander through the maze of Neve Tzedek’s streets until I finally found the right spot.
Throughout my first year of research, as I attended scores of performances and classes at Suzanne Dellal, my admiration and appreciation of the center only grew. And now, as I visit the center daily, I am no less astonished by the activity it supports. Classes, rehearsals, performances, and festivals keep the studios and theaters of Suzanne Dellal busy from nine in the morning to late at night, year-round. Indeed, the numbers published by the center are remarkable: each year, the Suzanne Dellal Center boasts an astonishing 600+ performances and welcomes approximately 500,000 visitors. And since its establishment in 1989, the center has presented over 1,200 premieres – most of which are dances.
Throughout 2009, festivals and photographic exhibitions celebrated the Suzanne Dellal Center’s twentieth anniversary, calling attention to the center’s extraordinary contribution to the field of dance in Israel. Although it’s now 2010, the celebration of the center’s activities is continuing: on February 23, Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar announced that the Suzanne Dellal Center would be awarded the Israel Prize, one of this country’s highest honors.
Chaired by Dr. Hadassah Shani, the selection committee commended the center. “In its 20 years of activity, the Suzanne Dellal Center has caused dance in Israel to take off,” they acknowledged. “The many and varied artistic endeavors of the center have spawned a new generation of artists, creators and performers, in the arena of artistic dance. Creative excellence on the center’s stage has broadened, and continues to broaden, the circle of dance lovers [in Israel]. The center’s activities opened the gates of the world’s most important dance to the Israeli dance scene and made it possible for Israel’s artistic dance to make its stamp in the international arena. This is a prize for initiators and supporters of the vision that became reality.”
The Minister of Culture and Sports, Limor Livnat, added, “The Suzanne Dellal Center is one of the most fascinating and unique centers in the field of dance in the entire world. In the 20 years since its founding, the center, under the direction of Yair Vardi, has turned into a center of pilgrimage for creators and dancers from the country and from the world. The Suzanne Dellal Center brings us much pride, and the bestowing of the Israel Prize expresses the great appreciation that we have for the center and for Yair Vardi.”
The Israel Prize will be given to the Suzanne Dellal Center by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin, President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, and Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar. The award ceremony will be held at the Jerusalem Theatre on April 20th, Israel’s Independence Day, and will be broadcast live on Channel 1.
Posted on 17 October 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili
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.
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 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.
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.
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!”
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.
* * *
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.”
Photo: Ariel Cohen’s Venus de Meatloaf. Photo by Nir Arieli.
I grew up in the ballet world, where “dance” and “beauty” went hand in hand. Ugliness was a foreign concept, perhaps invoked only in the portrayal of a story ballet’s villain.
So it was a challenge for me to wrap my mind around the theme of this year’s Intimadance festival: ugliness. How would dances that explore ugliness look?
With this question in mind, I spent part of this weekend in Tel Aviv’s Tmuna Theater. The works were diverse, but I couldn’t help noticing that a few of the dances invoked a ballet vocabulary and aesthetic at times, perhaps as a reference to conventional standards of beauty within this art form.
To learn more about Intimadance and the choreographers’ investigation of ugliness, check out my preview below, “Ugly Dance,” which was first published in the Jerusalem Post. The festival continues tonight with two performances.
* * *
Chances are, when you think about dance, the word “ugly” doesn’t come to mind. But for the Intimadance festival at Tel Aviv’s Tmuna Theater, choreographers were specifically asked to explore the concept of ugliness.
“This year the choice was to ask the question [about ugliness] in a discipline that is based on beauty – beauty of the body, beauty of the movement,” says Nava Zuckeman, co-artistic director of the festival.
Examining ugliness in an art form typically concerned with beauty may be an intimidating challenge, but Intimadance provides a safe platform for choreographers to tackle this task without pressure to succeed or meet a particular ideal. Ariel Efraim-Ashbel, who has co-directed the festival since last year, explains that the agenda is to try and search rather than to win. “We’re in a theater, not a war – we’re not trying to conquer anything,” he notes.