Dancing to the capital

Machol Shalem hosts the annual Jerusalem International Dance Week which offers a selection of works by Israeli and international artists.

November 25, 2014 21:17
3 minute read.
‘HEROES’ by Yossi Berg and Oded Graf

‘HEROES’ by Yossi Berg and Oded Graf. (photo credit: GADI DAGON)

Among the many goals of the rapidly growing Machol Shalem Dance House is to present a different perspective on Jerusalem to the world.

“Our biggest challenge,” said co-founder Ruby Edelman in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post, “is to show another aspect of this city, one that is plural and open to everyone.”

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This weekend, Edelman and his partner, choreographer Ofra Idel, will kick off the second annual Jerusalem International Dance Week. For over a decade, Edelman and Idel have chosen to live and work in Israel’s capital.

The two are active members of a new generation of young artists who have chosen to make Jerusalem their home. Since the official establishment of the Machol Shalem Dance House in 2011, Edelman and Idel have hosted elite artists from around the world. MSDH hosts festivals, offers workshops and master classes for local dancers and engages in co-productions with international bodies.

Jerusalem International Dance Week is the evolution of what was once a three-day festival.

This year, the festival will host the first annual International Choreography Competition.

Participants hail from Japan, Germany, Israel and Italy.

The timing of the festival is both opportune and not at the same time. In many ways, there has never been a more crucial instant to show the cultural, peaceful sides of the capital.

However, with many guests gearing up to visit from abroad, the current clashes in Jerusalem threaten to put a damper on program.

Another major event in this year’s program is the premier of a co-production between Machol Shalem and Swiss theater group Peng! Palast entitled The Holycoaster s(Hit) Circus.

The relationship between Peng! Palast and Machol Shalem began as the result of a bit of matchmaking.

“A Swiss theater director saw a work of mine at the Acre Festival and recommended that we talk to Peng! Palast. A dialogue between the Peng! Palast group and our dancers started and after a short while it was clear there was mutual interest in working together and collaborating on a new project.”

Edelman went on to describe the ensuing process as “crazy” and “surprising.” The outcome, The Holycoaster s(Hit) Circus, gives a loose account of the meeting between these artists, their prejudices and their attempts at tolerance. The piece mirrors Machol Shalem’s experience in Jerusalem and the organization’s attempt to break down religious, social, economic and societal barriers.

In September of this year, Machol Shalem hosted the Machol Shalem Festival, for which the dance house commissioned new works by Israeli choreographers. Under the artistic direction of Oded Graf, the choreographers were supported financially and artistically throughout the creative processes. The list of artists who participated includes Rachel Erdos, Yoav Greenberg, Anat Cederbaum, Idan Sharabi, Shlomi Bitton and Michal Herman.

Most of these artists’ works were completed during the recent war, which deeply affected the content and ambiance of the productions. These works will now return to Jerusalem for a second showing during Jerusalem International Dance Week.

In addition, the program will include performances chosen by an appointed committee.

“The committee was tasked with finding original and cutting edge works. We believe the chosen works present an authentic investigation of physical expression by independent artists. These works offers a challenging stage language and an alternative perception of what dance art is,” said Edelman. Among the chosen guests are Renana Raz, Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, Ido Batash, Merav Dagan, Ronen Itzhaki and Idan Forges.

Outside of the stage, Machol Shalem will host a number of panel discussions on the topics of the relationship between Judaism and dance, the creation of art during a political crisis and models of governmental support of the arts.

Jerusalem International Dance Week will take place from November 28 through December 3. For more information, visit www.

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