One of the most unique things about the Israeli dance scene is that it consists
almost exclusively of contemporary and modern troupes. In almost every other
country that values dance as a form of artistic expression, ballet leads the
pack in popularity and prestige.
As the oldest and most practiced formal
dance technique, ballet is a staple in both performance and education. Until
recently, the one and only local ballet troupe, the Israel Ballet, maintained a
very low profile. However, that is no longer the case.
Earlier this year,
the ballet was sent into a tailspin when founder and long-time artistic director
Berta Yampolsky was fired. Yampolsky had held tightly to the reins of the ballet
for 45 years, drawing much criticism from the community.
While she kept
the troupe up and running, her outdated taste and approach to dance left a dark
cloud over the company’s north Tel Aviv home. Upon her removal, a short list of
names was drawn up for her replacement, including Ido Tadmor as well as
Holland-based choreographer Itzik Galili. At the time, Tadmor was working with
the company as an artistic advisor for the Spring Festival.
“I started to
work there for a month before we knew who was chosen for the job,” said Tadmor
in a recent interview. While hitting the ground running at the ballet, Tadmor
continues to perform his own works outside of the framework of the company,
leaving him little time to catch his breath.
“The same day, I had a
meeting with the dancers. In that meeting I told them my vision for the
One of the first things I said was that I would preserve and
strengthen classical ballet in Israel. I knew the dancers were worried that I
would turn the company into another Batsheva. I told them that I want to keep it
a classical, repertory company.
“The next thing I said was that my door
would always be open and that they could always come talk to me as a friend, not
just as a boss. I was worried that the dancers wouldn’t be on board but they
really are and they understand that to save the ballet, we must work
This weekend, the Israel Ballet will present an evening of
three works, entitled Moon, marking the company’s hopeful return to the
limelight. The evening will consist of Moon Over Jupiter by American
choreographer Dwight Rhoden, One by Idan Sharabi and Les Sylphides by Michel
“Dwight is a friend and the director of the American company
Complexions,” said Tadmor. “He is a choreographer that has a very neoclassical
approach, however the dancers will still get to use their technique. The women
dance the entire piece in pointe shoes. Moon over Jupiter is a piece that uses
music by Rachmaninov, who is one of my favorite composers.
brings out their virtuosity but also the character and artistry of each one of
This seemed like a great choice for now.
“Les Sylphides is
one of my favorite ballets of all time. It is a very important ballet that is
performed by almost every important company in the world. The Israel Ballet
hasn’t performed it in over 20 years. It is the pinnacle of pure ballet both in
the physicality as well as the aesthetic.”
One is a quartet for three
women and a man with music by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin.
has spent the last three decades on stage with companies such as Bat Dor Dance
Company, Batsheva Dance Company and New York-based Lar Lubovitch Dance Company,
dazzling audiences with his virtuosic skills. As part of the local dance
community, Tadmor has worn many hats. In 1995, he founded his own company, which
performed widely throughout Israel. He has served as an artistic advisor for a
long list of ensembles and festivals. His choreographies have been seen around
At 50 years of age, Tadmor shows no signs of slowing. In fact,
in the past several years he seems to have rediscovered his love of the
He has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South
America with his own work and as a dancer in pieces by other choreographers. The
role of artistic director of a ballet represents a major challenge for
In the coming season, Tadmor will present Moon, followed by David
Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast and Marius Petipa’s La Bayadere. In addition to his
work with the company, Tadmor has revived the school of the Israel
“Last year, there were 35 students enrolled. Now we have over 200
and they keep coming. In such a short period of time, not more than five months,
there has already been a major change. The atmosphere has lifted. There is a lot
of newness in the air. The home of the ballet has become an open place; dancers
from here and abroad come to take classes, even former company members who
haven’t been in the building for years. It’s not a simple job but already I feel
a sense of success,” smiled Tadmor.
Moon will be presented on September
21 at 9 p.m at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. For more information, visit