Shades of dance

Young artists present their new pieces in competition.

September 7, 2017 20:41
3 minute read.
Ravid Abarbanel

Ravid Abarbanel. (photo credit: DGANIT ERTMAN)

The choreographers of the biennial Shades of Dance Choreography Competition have been on quite a roller coaster these last few months. Aside from being amid creating new dance works – for many, a first-time experience – the 10 artists participating in this year’s program have dealt with an additional load of uncertainty leading up to their premieres. Just a few short weeks ago, the Suzanne Dellal Center, the producing body behind Shades of Dance since its inception in 1984, informed the choreographers that the project had been frozen due to budgetary issues. Faced with this information, the artists did what they do best: They returned to the studio and continued working, keeping fingers and toes crossed and hoping for the best. Fortunately, Yair Vardi, artistic director of the Suzanne Dellal Center, and his staff were able to leap over the financial hurdle and present Shades of Dance as scheduled.

This weekend, nine new dance works will take the stages and outdoor space of the center.

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Shades of Dance is one of a handful of cornerstones on the Israeli dance calendar. Its establishment marked the official recognition of independent choreographers as a creative force in the country. For the 37 years since, Shades of Dance has provided a platform for artists who were at the start of their careers as dance makers. These individuals were provided with artistic mentorship, production assistance and a viable stage to perform on.

For many, Shades of Dance was the jump-start that began a long career of choreographing.

Half a year ago, dozens of young dancers and choreographers presented their initial ideas to Shades of Dance artistic directors Odelya Kuperberg and Shlomit Fundaminsky. Of them, nine artists or teams were selected. Each will present a short work during the weekend. Then, an artistic committee will meet to award three works with prizes – two for choreography and one for audience appreciation. However, the competitive element of the festival is by far the least important. For these artists, the platform is the key, regardless of whether they receive an award.

The program is divided into three evenings and outside performances.

Maya Witlin will present Magic Mashehu, a work that explores the conception of human movement.

“Who decided how we stand, how we sit, how we move when we are angry, how we move our hand when we are trying to explain something?” Witlin’s choreography attempts to question and re-strategize movements that are equally fitting to our basic emotions.

Shani Tamari’s Wannabe is a solo and a confession. In this piece, Tamari confronts her own feelings of guilt and neglect towards her artistic practice, where she is lazy and where she could give more.

Dana Marcus’s And If You Catch Me, Will I Fall? presents the never-ending conflict between independence and relationships.

“What is holding what up, and who is holding who?” writes Marcus of the work. “Is there room for two of us here?”

Tomer Navot’s Tightrope is a duet with dancer Marija Slavec. The two met while dancing in Vertigo Dance Company. In this duet, Navot and Slavec attempt to be together while pulling apart, stretching the bond between them as far as it can go.

What if we could take our toughest memories and laugh at them? What if our fantasies could take over real life? In the duet Aliza by Ravid Abrabanel and performed with Tomer Giat, the two dancers mix and match emotions and realities.

Rotem Weissman’s Vetomar Isha is a virtuosic and sensual dance for four. For inspiration, Weissman looked at the story of Adam and Eve through the eyes of Eve. This new perspective sent her on a journey that resulted in a distortion and re-imagining of seduction.

For her work Harmonielehre, Shira Elkouby turned to sisters Ofri and Raz Mantell. Inspired by American composer John Adams’s piece of the same name, this work scratches at the relationship between music and movement.

Yael Auerbach and Gefen Liberman’s The Foyer looks at spaces and events that are undefined or unspecified. Their work aims to present a performative moment that is untethered by theatrical conceptions. Finally, Yotam Calo’s Anyone presents the artist’s difficulty coping with intimacy and the mirror that another person in his life can serve as.

Shades of Dance takes place September 8 and 9 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit

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