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Diving right in
By ORI J. LENKINSKI
08/27/2014
The Diver Festival presents fascinating movement in the world of contemporary dance.
 
According to Moshe Shechter Avshalom and Ido Feder, the artistic directors of the upcoming Diver Festival, Israeli dance is undergoing a wide-scale transformation. From a place of physical exploration, dance artists have moved to a point of departure that is intellect- and content-based.

Starting at the beginning of September and running through the third week of the month, the Diver Festival will present examples of this fascinating movement in the world of dance.

“The transformation is a process that has been going on for quite some time,” explains Feder. A graduate student at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Philosophy, Feder speaks clearly and passionately, often stretching one sentence to include a number of interesting tangents.

“I think this transformation has simple historical reasons. Dance people – meaning dancers and choreographers – went abroad in the 2000s or earlier to study or work. They viewed very different types of dance from the common streams that were visible on stage and in programs in Israel. Here, there has been the neoclassical tradition and the Batsheva tradition that we call ‘modern dance.’ People who went abroad saw types of contemporary dance that didn’t exist here and got a lot of new dance knowledge. I don’t think it’s about importing knowledge, though. Those people came back here and are trying to touch what is going on here and influence the structures that are here.”

Several of those artists, the pioneers of this change, will be presented in the coming weeks.

The opening night of the festival will feature a foreign program.

Gerro, Minos & Him is the work of Aloun Marchal, Roger Sala Reyner and Simon Tanguy. In this piece, three men are thrown into an empty room. With no costumes or props with which to entertain themselves, they are forced to explore the relationships among them as a means to pass the time.

After several successful performances abroad, Arkadi Zaides will reveal his newest work, Archive, to Israeli audiences. In the creation of this work, Zaides teamed up with B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. On stage, Zaides performs in front of footage gathered from the B’Tselem Camera Project.

“Arkadi Zaides’s piece is going to be very polemic because it’s about the occupation,” says Feder. “It does something very simple and fundamental. He is just imitating bodies that he sees.

The action of imitation is already something that dance, as an art form, already has. But what happens when you imitate bodies that are in a specific situation? It’s a good example of how dance can touch reality in a very specific way. Dance is not just dance, it is art.”

Other artists to be presented in this year’s program are Yair Bareli, Anat Danieli, Itzik Giuli, Lilach Livne, Or Avishay, Tami Leibovich, Maayan Danoch, Lee Meir and Maya Weinberg. Embedded in the program are a number of discussions and lectures.

“It is an invitation for the dance community to come and have serious reflection and real communication. It’s also an invitation to the art world to enter the dance world to see what it can contribute,” Feder says.

Because of the unique nature of the Diver Festival as a nomadic initiative, Feder and Shechter Avshalom are able to program eclectically and diversely.

“When the Suzanne Dellal Center or Tmuna Theater organizes a festival, they do it in their own image. We crossfade and juxtapose all these institutions, agents, artists, theaters, ministries and companies.

We believe that a festival can create another narrative, not just represent the mandate of one particular organization. It allows us to have a freedom to curate something independent that is very collaborative,” says Feder.

The Diver Festival will take place from September 3 to 23 at Mahsan 2 in Jaffa. For more information, visit www.diverfestival.com.
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