August brings the start of Tel Aviv Dance, three months of local and international dance performances hosted at the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater in Neve Tzedek.
“We’re looking for something different than what we have here,” said Yair Vardi, director of Suzanne Dellal. “I’m trying, and sometime I succeed and sometimes I don’t, but we want to bring new messages, new ideas, new stages, reaching the public in order to see more.”
Suzanne Dellal is the home of the Batsheva Dance Company, a contemporary troupe founded by famed dancer Martha Graham and now directed by Ohad Naharin, known for his emerging choreography as well as for Gaga, his invented dance movement language in which Batsheva members train, and which is geared to the public as well.
During Tel Aviv Dance, however, the studios and stages of Suzanne Dellal host dozens of dancers from across the country and around the globe, who bring their own alignments, steps and inversions to the local audience.
This year’s crop of 12 companies come from Germany, China, Spain, Hong Kong, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Sweden and Ukraine. There are also local troupes, including Batsheva, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack, Kamea, Jerusalem Ballet, Compas Flamenco and others.
From August 2 through October 31, the visiting troupes will perform in 15 world premieres and new performances by Israeli artists.
“We’re listening to what’s going on around the world,” said Vardi. “We look for dancers who haven’t been here, who bring social messages and ethnic works.”
Tel Aviv Dance was started when Vardi found there was a plethora of troupes who wanted to perform in Israel.
“Three months is a lot of time to fill and for the public to follow, but it also allows people to see more than one performance and to catch some different kinds of dance,” he said. “It gives us a place to promote whatever we like, and to give a space to the Israeli premieres.”
Vardi pointed out several Israeli troupes that have found a space for themselves among the primarily contemporary local dance scene “against all odds,” including flamenco from the Compas and Silvia Duran troupes as well as belly dancing.
“We’re one of the leading dance societies in the world, we have so much to offer, in quality and quantity,” he said. “We’re a leading force and that’s why everyone wants to come here to perform.”
One personal Dance Tel Aviv favorite of Vardi is Roderick George / kNoname Artist from Germany performing “D U S T,” on August 7-9. They’re an ensemble of four male dancers combining hip hop with ballet, choreographed by George, a former soloist of American dance company Cedar Lake.
Vardi also noted the only non-governmental Chinese ballet company, Beijing Dance/LDTX, established in 2005 by Willy Tsao and Li Han-zhong, whose company is named for the initials of the Chinese expression “thunder that shakes the universe.” The group of 14 dancers navigate in and out of unison and chaos with music by American bassist David Darling.
City Contemporary Dance Company from Hong Kong will perform on August 28-30 with its mix of eastern elements, including calligraphy, Buddha, feng shui, chopsticks and martial arts in “365 Ways of Doing and Undoing Orientalism.”
There’s Compagnie Thor in October, directed by Belgian dancer Thierry Smits, whose male dancers perform in a permanent state of nudity in “Anima Ardens,” considered a very modern, aesthetic and provocative piece.
Israeli premieres include “IceTree” by Pinto and Pollak, Kibbutz Contemporary’s “Mother’s Milk,” by Rami Be’er, and Jerusalem Ballet’s “Taming of the Shrew.”
There are kids’ performances as well during the three-month period, with “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” danced by Israeli flamenco troupe Compas and “Youmake Remake,” Renana Raz’s interactive show that has been performed on and off at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
The end of October brings Swedish dancer Charlotta Öfverholm’s “Age on Stage, a Survival Kit,” with a post-performance conversation on the October 24 performance.
The performance from Öfverholm is a collaboration with several Israeli dancers, Sharon Fridman and Rafael Sady, as well as Batsheva alumnus Talia Paz.
Sady, who has been performing and living outside of Israel for years, said he’s always thrilled when he has the opportunity to perform in Israel. The work with Öfverholm began several years ago when she asked him to work on a three-year project revolving around older dancers who continue to perform onstage.
“It’s the ongoing issue of the dance profession,” said Sady. “We’re born with this bug to dance, and we always wonder, ‘Until what age can we dance?'”
Öfverholm’s project emphasizes that there’s no reason to stop dancing, said Sady, as long as there’s still the desire and love of dance.
“I was fascinated by all of it,” said Sady. “And I’m happy to be part of this festival with this project, creating a place to open a window and allow older dancers to present their work.”
Schedules and tickets for all performances of Dance Tel Aviv can be found at the Suzanne Dellal site.