When Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al established the Vertigo Dance Company 20 years ago, their main motivation was to create beautiful, innovative dance performances. With their unusual movement language and sense of other-worldly aesthetics, the pair set out to plant their flag in the budding Israeli dance community. At the time, they had no idea that their actions would lead to what is becoming an international movement.

The company will celebrate its 20th anniversary season this year, beginning with the performance of Vertigo 20, which will be presented in theaters around the country in the coming weeks. In addition to this homage production, Vertigo will participate in a number of ground-breaking activities at home and abroad.

Vertigo 20 is a kind of retrospective that marks the growth and development of Wertheim and her artistic staff since the early days. With each year in the troupe’s lifespan Wertheim, an intensely emotional woman, unveiled new sides of herself. Her creations often reveal the struggles she has endured over the past years, be it as a wife, mother or one of four sisters.

With Vertigo 20, Wertheim sought to delve into her past and to present the moments that stand out in her memory. Long-time fans of the company will surely recognize segments or images from past productions, such as Birth of the Phoenix, White Noise and Mana. The performance was created as a coproduction with Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, where the troupe will perform in June. With a cast of 12 dancers, including international imports, Vertigo 20 is not only a hugely celebratory performance but also the largest-scale production the company has ever taken on.

In Israel, Vertigo has become synonymous with a rare kind of ecological awareness. From their base in the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem, Wertheim and Sha’al transitioned themselves and their dancers to the rustic environs of Kibbutz Netiv Ha’lamed Hey. There, the company works in a mud-walled studio overlooking the surrounding fields. The dancers drink purified rainwater during their long hours in the scenic studio and excuse themselves to the confines of ecological toilets. Though the members of the company continue to create dance performances, their outlook on the environment has become as much part of their reputation as the shows they tour with.

In the coming months, following the premiere performances of Vertigo 20, the company will expand its activities to include a list of projects such as the Power of Balance, the Masa Program and a unique collaboration with a local vineyard.

Power of Balance invites individuals with disabilities to explore movement under the guidance of Vertigo’s staff. During their time in the ecological village, participants are offered workshops on dance and various environmental concerns. In 2012, Vertigo was awarded the prestigious Ruderman Prize in Disability for this project, an award that is granted to 10 international organizations a year.

The Masa Program is the newest of Vertigo’s endeavors. Joining forces with Masa Israel Journey, Vertigo offers international dancers the opportunity to spend five months with the company as apprentices. These dancers are invited to all company rehearsals and are encouraged to participate in a curriculum of dance classes that includes release technique, ballet and company repertory. The first group of the Masa dancers arrived in Israel a few weeks ago.

And what would a 20th anniversary be without a little wine? For their celebrations, Vertigo has teamed up with the Ella Valley Winery to produce four types of wine. These limited edition bottles will feature images from Vertigo’s productions and will be on sale at Vertigo performances around the country.

Vertigo 20 will run on February 1 at 10 p.m. at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv (www.suzannedellal.org.il); on February 6 at 8:30 p.m at Kibbutz Yifat; on February 12 at 9 p.m. at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center (www.hohherzliya.co.il); and on February 19 at the Haifa Auditorium. For more information, visit www.vertigo.org.il.




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