Forty-five years since its inception, the Israel Ballet has good cause to celebrate. Against all odds its founders Berta Yampolsky and Hillel Markman turned the budding ballet company into a fine ensemble of dancers, one of the three largest dance companies in Israel.

The anniversary evening opened with Co-Venti, a new piece by Yampolsky, set to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.20 in D Minor, followed by two excerpts from previous works by Yampolsky. It concluded with a rare contemporary addition to the company’s repertoire – Hikarizatto by Itzik Galili.

Co-Venti confronted a major challenge by choosing a Mozart concerto, and indeed the choreography struggled to keep the clarity and simple sophistication of the music. While concentrating on the musical phrases, a heap of decorative motifs were added, aimed to showcase technique but with little relevance.

Over the years, Yampolsky has choreographed most of the company’s repertoire.

Some of her renditions of the classics worked very well, but her original neo-classical attempts sometimes turned out to be more of an Achilles heel. The two excerpts are fine example of her artistic range. Lacrimosa, a short piece taken from Yampolsky’s Xta, is a beautiful duet that was danced to perfection by Shira Ezuz and Alexander Uitkin, and the only piece of the evening that was superbly dressed. The second was Take This Waltz, an excerpt from a piece dedicated to Leonard Cohen songs. What could have been an elegant, bittersweet waltz was treated with moves that went against its inherent grain and didn’t fare as well.

Thanks to Galili and music by Percossa, the company had its first opportunity to perform a contemporary ballet par excellence, with sharp, swift, highly technical moves in post-Forsyth style. The ensemble of 18 dancers looked really good and, more than that, they looked happy for the rare challenge. So were we.

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