Friday, January 4, 2013

Dance in the Land of Milk and Honey [Part 1 of 2]

By Jennifer Turner, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager

In early December, I joined over one hundred arts professionals representing thirty-five countries assembled in Tel Aviv for the 2012 International Exposure. Over six days, we were able to see thirty-nine local dance pieces presented primarily at the Suzanne Dellah Center. Other venues included the funky Tmuna Theatre in Tel Aviv, the Yasmeen Godder Studio in Jaffa and Hangar Adama, once a deserted industrial hanger deep in the Negev Desert and now transformed into a harmonious dance center.

Tel Aviv overlooking Jaffa
Tel Aviv overlooking Jaffa

Suzanne Dellah CenterThe Suzanne Dellah Center, home to Batsheva Dance Companies, the Inbal Onto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company and the Oran Porat Theatre for Children & Youth is located in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Neve Tzedek reminded me a bit of the Gold Coast in Chicago. Cute boutiques, restaurants, residential, many baby strollers and the beautiful Suzanne Dellah campus. The center has three performance halls (Suzanne Dellah Hall, Yershalmy Hall & Inbal Hall), studios, outdoor performance space, fountains, orange trees, restaurants and ice shops. There is a main square and a small plaza with benches and trees that attracts people (and pets!) day and night. The Center’s Director, Yair Vardi is a former Batsheva dancer and remembers performing at the Auditorium Theatre with the company in 1972.

I was pleased by the quality and depth of Israeli dance. We saw some amazing performances and the Exposure was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the dancers, choreographers and artistic directors. Most of the artists attended the attendee receptions and went to their colleague’s performances. They were excited to meet so many arts professionals from all over the world and happy to spend time discussing their work. The dance community is very small but they seem supportive of each other. Dance in Israel receives funding from the government as well as local funding from the city. Companies must be established for two years and perform a minimum number of public performances to be eligible for funding. Many of the companies work out of Tel Aviv but some base in Jerusalem or opt to open centers in more rural areas. Since the country is so small (about the size of New Jersey), touring opportunities within Israel is more limited and companies are focused on international exposure.    

Check back next week for information about the dance companies that I saw during my trip, including links to their websites and videos! See a few more photos from the trip below.

Tmuna Theatre
Hangar Adama
Hangar Adama
mitzpe ramon
Mitzpe Ramon

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