Dancer Igal Perry coming home to Israel
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Clicking his heelsClicking his heels

Dancer Igal Perry coming home to Israel

NYC-based choreographer eyes Israel’s modern dance boom with approval, noting that when he left, the scene drew few men

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

From 'Evermore,' a piece choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, performed by Peridance (Photo credit: Jaqlin Medlock)
From 'Evermore,' a piece choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, performed by Peridance (Photo credit: Jaqlin Medlock)

When Igal Perry’s dancers perform in Carmiel and Tel Aviv this week, it will feel like home. At least for him.

The dancer and choreographer has lived outside Israel for close to 40 years, dancing in nearly a dozen companies before founding his own troupe, New York’s Peridance Contemporary Dance Company.

“But,” he said, speaking from Italy where he was teaching a workshop, “there’s no place like home, so I’m about to click my heels.”

Perry and his dancers will join dozens of other troupes from Israel and abroad at two dance events, the Carmiel Dance Festival, an annual gathering of local and international dancers, with a focus on folk dance, in the northern city (July 28-30), and Tel Aviv Dance 2015, two months of dance performances by local and international troupes at the city’s Suzanne Dellal Centre (July 1-September 5).

The troupe’s performances in Israel will include the works of three different guest choreographers, beginning with contemporary French choreographer Manuel Vignoulle’s “Crazy…Crazy Love!,” set to classic 1960s music; Perry’s own “Thundering Silence,” performed to music by Vladimir Martynov; and “Evermore,” by choreographer Dwight Rhoden, a piece put to the music of Nat King Cole.

“I like to work in a musical way,” he said. “My expression comes out of the whole work, rather than a particular moment,” which, he adds, is somewhat different front the more theatrical, Israeli method of dance.

Yet Perry said he shares much with his fellow Israeli choreographers, emphasizing modern and earthy themes in his pieces and working with dancers who are classically trained in both ballet and ground work. He doesn’t choreograph ballet per se, but his work is influenced by the form.

“I put both worlds together, and that’s been settled into my system,” said Perry. “My choreography is very clean and musical but very earthy, and using the body in many ways.”

It’s an openness that Perry nurtures in his professional dance life, preferring to explore and perform different forms of artistic expression, as art is “always ahead of its time,” he noted.

Igal Perry, the founder and choreographer of the Peridance Company in New York (Courtesy Peridance)
Igal Perry, the founder and choreographer of the Peridance Company in New York (Courtesy Peridance)

Performing in Israel, however, offers him the opportunity to closely follow the Israeli modern dance boom, he said, something he said that was “always waiting to happen. I’m proud of Israeli dance venturing out into the world.”

“In the beginning, when I started, there were very few men,” he said. “But Israeli modern dance was something that was waiting to happen. Israelis have always been very artistic and always looking for a way to express themselves, it just wasn’t part of the culture and wasn’t ‘in.’”

Now, said Perry, his dancers have been exposed to other Israeli choreographers, including Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, who has taught his Gaga system of free dance, and hosted his dancers.

“My dancers were totally, totally amazed by his work,” he said.

This time, he gets to perform in Naharin’s home base at Suzanne Dellal, surrounded by family and friends, as well as up north in Carmiel.

“I can’t wait to get back to Carmiel, that’s my origins,” said Perry, who’s originally from the northern city of Tiberias, in the Galilee. “I’ll be in the Galilee, with that air, it’s wonderful. And then of course in Tel Aviv, the center of the Israeli dance world. I’m not nervous, but excited. It’s a homecoming, so we want to do our best.”

Peridance, July 31, 10 pm, Suzanne Dellal, NIS 250.

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