A graceful pivot

Tel Aviv Dance goes online with nine premieres

Suzanne Dellal Center promotes choreographers’ works with eight-day festival on the web

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

The coronavirus pandemic refuses to abate, but the show must go on at Suzanne Dellal Center’s Tel Aviv Dance festival, which has launched its new online format of nine dance premieres on September 8-16.

Once it’s over, the works will be displayed on the Tel Aviv Dance website through September 25.

Tickets are available online for NIS 20 per performance or NIS 99 for the entire festival.

“Filming dance is not easy,” said Naomi Perlov, the new artistic director for the Suzanne Dellal Center. “But we had to try, we couldn’t take the easy way out.”

It was Perlov and Anat Leventon, the new CEO of Suzanne Dellal, who decided together to support choreographers and showcase their new pieces, even if this year’s version of Tel Aviv Dance had to be shown on a digital platform.

“We had to open the door to the creators to show their works,” said Perlov. “It’s better to try than not to try.”

Roy Assaf’s ‘Figure No. 16’, premiering online at Tel Aviv Dance on September 12, 2020 (Courtesy Tel Aviv Dance)

Showcasing dance pieces online has been complicated for dancers during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, many have persevered, including the Gaga movement language studio created by Batsheva Dance Company choreographer Ohad Naharin, which connected thousands of students worldwide when it went online on Zoom during the spring.

Perlov and her team began by figuring out whether to show the dance live or recorded (they went for recorded), how many cameras to use, and how to work with choreographers who “don’t know what online is,” she said.

Choreographer Ella Rothschild will unveil ‘Pigulim’ online at Tel Aviv Dance on September 16, 2020, part of the annual festival’s new online program (Courtesy Efrat Mazor)

The first dance was shown on Tuesday, September 8, featuring Orly Portal’s Fakarouni, set to the music of famed Egyptian musician Umm Kulthum with a troupe of male-only dancers.

There’s something about viewing dance online, said Perlov, that may be more intensive than watching it onstage.

“There were moments that I had goosebumps,” she said of Portal’s premiere.

Future dance performances include the Shaden Dance Company with “Trilogy” in the courtyards of Suzanne Dellal and a video dance through the Nazareth Old City market on September 9, at 9 p.m.

Rina Schenfeld’s ‘I Saw A Butterfly’ will premiere online with Tel Aviv Dance on September 10, 2020 (Courtesy Roni Dadon)

The Rina Schenfeld Dance Theater will perform “I Saw A Butterfly,”
dance and poetry from works written over the last 30 years by the renowned choreographer Schenfeld set to music by Grammy winner David Darling, on September 10, at 9 p.m.

Other premiering choreographers include Adi Boutrous (September 11); Roy Assaf (September 12); Shlomit Fundminsky (September 13); Annabelle Dvir (September 14); and the Kaiser Antonino Dance Ensemble, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday (September 15).

“We’re continuing [to do] what we do, big time,” said Perlov. “There’s a lot of people watching out there.”

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