In Israel, performances take place virtually every day. Music, opera, theater, dance, performance art, clowns and magic shows, stand-up and a host of other genres of entertainment are presented on stages throughout the country at a head-spinning rate. And yet, most of the population prefers to stay home or enjoy a meal rather than attend these events. When asked what keeps them away, many will give one of two reasons: location and cash flow.

One of the biggest challenges facing the dance community is how to decentralize performances while keeping ticket prices reasonable. For the most part, dance performances take place in big cities, where the cost of living is higher. This comes down to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with a heavier load placed on the former.

Though keeping performances in one or two locations can generate an audience base, often entire circles of dance lovers are missed because of geography. For choreographers, reaching out to these individuals is an elusive feat, mainly because organizing performances outside of cities takes resources that are beyond many artists’ means. The moment a show leaves the city, a host of expenses are added to the production cost.

This year, Mifal Hapais, together with the Culture and Sport Ministry and the Israeli Culture Institute Forum, created an event dedicated to bringing art and culture to the far reaches of the country. Tonight, the first (and hopefully annual) Days of Culture event will begin three days of performances in over 100 locations. The events will include children’s theater, films, dance, literature, music and museum activities. Tickets cost up to 20 shekels for all events.

Of the event, Mifal Hapais chairman Uzi Dayan said, “this unique event is the first of its kind, and its goal is to support Israeli culture and its artists and to share its richness and diversity with a wide Israeli audience.

We are planning on making Days of Culture an annual event that will be added to Israel’s cultural calendar. I would like to thank all of the artists, performers and collaborators, and to wish us all many more delightful days of culture!” Days of Culture is particularly significant to the local dance community because of the diverse performance spaces offered to artists. Performances will take place on stages as well as in museum halls throughout the country. The program includes nearly every active choreographer or company around. The list of companies to perform includes the Batsheva Ensemble with Uprising/Shula, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack Dance Company with Goldfish, Vertigo Dance Company with Mana, Yasmeen Godder Dance Group with See Her Change, the Israel Ballet with Our Days, Kolben Dance Company with Kmehin and Charlie Mendelbaum and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

Independent choreographers to present work throughout the three days of the event include Michal Herman, Rachel Erdos, Shlomi Biton, Tami and Ronen Itzhaki, Anat Gregorio, Dafi Eltabeb, Dana Ruttenberg and many more. Many of these artists’ works will be shown in shortened versions on a loop in the museum halls, allowing audience members the freedom to enjoy the art on the walls while watching dance.

Beyond contemporary dance, Days of Culture will present performances of flamenco, Spanish and folk dance.

Days of Culture will take place from December 25-27. For more information and tickets, visit www.pais.co.il.

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