In his large, airy, sun-washed studio, Yoram Karmi is perfectly in his element.
Located in Holon, the headquarters of Fresco Dance Group are a hop, skip and a jump away from the Israeli dance community’s well-beaten path. The company is something of a wild card on the local scene, a bit more classical than other troupes and a bit isolated.
In recent years, Fresco has become a beacon for international dancers. And judging by the blond heads bobbing around the studio, it is apparent that appreciation for Karmi and his choreography extend far beyond the Israeli borders.
This month, as part of the Hot Dance Festival, Karmi will unveil his most recent work, Cerberus. The name of the mythological three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld, Cerberus was featured in both Greek and Roman literature and has been reimagined by artists for centuries. Karmi had intended to premiere the piece earlier but pushed the deadline back due to an injury sustained by one of his soloists.
Like all Fresco pieces, Cerberus will be a display of long lines, superb technique and a physicality not often seen in this part of the world. Since the company’s inception in 2002, Karmi has experimented with the boundaries of the classical and neoclassical movement vocabularies, creating his own mix of pointed toes and flying limbs.
Last year he released Particle Accelerator, an evening-length production set perhaps in a future world rife with contamination.
Dancers flapped their wings while wearing gas masks, attempting to flee a reality that had become overly polluted. The piece contained an abstract narrative, taking audiences through a set of scenes that were at times disturbing, at others, comical. Amidst the chaos of cleaning, the strong cast of Fresco was highlighted in beautiful, delicate duets and deeply physical group sections.
Though they are busy preparing this new piece, the Fresco staff maintains a constant presence in the school system.
One of Fresco’s major successes is its bustling involvement in children’s theater.
Its production of Alice in Wonderland has been running for several seasons and is a favorite. Around the World in Eighty Days equally delighted students around the country, and the most recent production of The Jungle Book has received rave reviews from students, teachers and parents.
What is indisputable is that Karmi has a knack for weaving together works out of strong aesthetics, beautiful movement and a touch of humor. Though he is unwilling to divulge too many details about the performance prior to the premiere, Karmi has assured us that Cerberus will challenge the audience and his dancers in new ways.
Cerberus will premiere at the Suzanne Dellal Center on June 30. For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.