The Israel Ballet.
(photo credit: EYAL LANDSMAN)
Over the past three years, change has become the only constant in the daily life of the Israel Ballet. The 49-year-old company’s recent modus operandi is to keep moving, literally and figuratively. After more than four decades in the hands of founder Berta Yampolsky, the Israel Ballet appointed Ido Tadmor to take the helm. Tadmor joined the ballet’s ranks with a lot of ideas and energy but quickly found himself estranged from the position.
Following Tadmor’s departure, the Israel Ballet announced that Mate Moray would take up the job.
Moray, like the title character in the ballet Raymonda, hails from Hungary. He spent three years dancing as a soloist in the Gyor Ballet before being invited to join the Israel Ballet as a dancer. Upon completing a decade as one of the ballet’s most prized performers, Moray left the company. In the years since, he established himself as a master teacher, instructing students throughout Israel.
With his inside knowledge of the Israel Ballet and his gift for cultivating young talent, Moray fit easily into the role of artistic director. In the months since his appointment, he has tackled the challenge of updating the company on two fronts: improving the repertoire of the performing ensemble and investing in the Israel Ballet’s school.
As Moray says, “The Israeli dance scene and its loyal audience base deserve an institution whose expertise is in classical ballet, a home to the best classical dancers in the country, choreographers and professionals. All this alongside a school that will raise the new generation of ballerinas and soloists.”
This new season is a major step for the company, one that Moray has constructed with great care and consideration.
The season, which recently opened with a new production of Raymonda, includes Cinderella; Bilbi, a new children’s performance based on Pippi Longstocking; and The Nutcracker. On Sunday night, the Israel Ballet will present Raymonda at the Jerusalem Theatre.
Raymonda, although perhaps less known than ballets such as Swan Lake and Giselle, is considered one of the most important choreographies of all time. Created by ballet legend Marius Petipa in 1898 in Saint Petersburg, Raymonda is set to music by Alexander Glazunov. A ballet in three acts, Raymonda tells the story of a young maiden as she awaits the return of her fiancé. With its various sets and period costumes, the ballet is a visually stunning production.
Because of its place in ballet history, Raymonda is both a perfectly fitting and starkly challenging production with which to open the season. There are no shortcuts possible here, no contemporary influences to fall back on, only ballet at its purest and most demanding. In some ways, kicking off this way is a trial by fire. The dancers of the Israel Ballet have spent months getting ready for these performances, tirelessly perfecting Petipa’s complex combinations. Their first performance, which was held at the end of October, was very well received. The production proves that classical ballet is alive and thriving in Israel.
Following Raymonda, the Israel Ballet will quickly shift gears to present Cinderella for the Hanukka season. Croatian choreographer Ronald Savkovic created this new version of Prokofiev’s opus. Then, in mid-2016, the Israel Ballet will host Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis, who will present a new work based on Swan Lake.The Israel Ballet will perform ‘Raymonda’ at the Jerusalem Theatre on November 15. For more information, visit www.iballet.co.il.