French dancers mix it up at Suzanne Dellal’s Tel Aviv fest
Vive la danse

French dancers mix it up at Suzanne Dellal’s Tel Aviv fest

Dance France is part of Tel Aviv Dance, four months featuring visiting troupes at the performance center

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

Yuval Pick, a choreographer who is coming to Dance France 2018 with his dancers to perform 'Acta est fabula' (Courtesy Yuval Pick)
Yuval Pick, a choreographer who is coming to Dance France 2018 with his dancers to perform 'Acta est fabula' (Courtesy Yuval Pick)

A whiff of French culture arrives at Tel Aviv’s Suzanne Dellal Center with Dance France, three French troupes differing in style, tone and content that will perform October 19-27.

They’re part of Tel Aviv Dance, the international season of Suzanne Dellal, which lasts for four months and features 21 visiting troupes with 200 dancers and choreographers.

For Dance France, Yair Vardi, director of Suzanne Dellal, chose three French dance troupes, each “bringing something different” to the Israeli stage. The visiting troupes are part of a cultural exchange taking place between Israel and France this year.

“Each brings a different story and place, and is sometimes appropriate for different ages,” said Vardi, who added that he is always seeking to draw younger and more diverse audiences to Suzanne Dellal.

The first performance of Dance France is on October 19 and 20, with Israeli dancer Yuval Pick, from the National Choreographic Center of Rillieux-la-Pape. Pick, well-known in Israel, first danced with the Batsheva Dance Company, the in-house troupe of Suzanne Dellal, but has long lived and worked in France.

This piece, “Acta est fabula,” has Pick examining issues of the collective, of belonging and of identity, that arise when someone is born in one place and lives elsewhere.

Vardi hopes it will “speak to the Israelis,” many of whom were or are immigrants, and

Next up is Maud Le Pladec, from the Centre Chorégrahique National de Orleans, who offers a sensory experience, immersing the audience into music with “Professor” — inspired by “Professor Bad Trip,” a musical composition by Fausto Romitelli — to be performed on October 22 and 23, with a post-performance discussion on the first evening.

“It’s something more musical,” said Vardi. “It’s avant garde, and Israelis love anything avant garde.”

“Professor” is a piece that brings together alternative rock, pop music and contemporary sounds, as Le Pladec examines what’s behind the music with her choreography, said Vardi.

The third visiting troupe is the Ballet of the Opera National du Rhin, performing “Fireflies” by Bruno Bouché on October 26 and 27.

The title of the ballet refers to the luminescent flies that give light in the night. The ballet examines how humans can protect their strength and power, and protect the happiness found in their hearts.

“It’s much more classical,” said Vardi, “so it brings out a different crowd.”

One of the French visitors to Tel Aviv Dance will be Benjamin Millepied, a choreographer from the Los Angeles Dance Project and husband to Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman. Millepied is bringing his troupe to perform a piece he choreographed, and another by Martha Graham. 

The French-born choreographer spent 16 years in the New York City Ballet, and created the choreography for the dance film “Black Swan.” He met Portman, who plays a dancer in the film, on the set. Portman recently sparked controversy when she refused to come to Jerusalem to accept a prize, saying she did not want to be seen as endorsing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies.

Millepied’s troupe will perform on October 8 and 9, but is not part of Dance France.

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