Hazira Festival
Beit Mazia, Jerusalem, June 25


Contrary to the assumption that all dance activity takes place in the “State of Tel Aviv,” there is a lot happening in Jerusalem these days. Independent dance can be experienced there at several venues, among them the Hazira Festival at Beit Mazia.

This modest platform encourages choreographers to experiment under extensive artistic supervision. The artistic director of the past couple of editions is choreographer Sahar Azimi, who encourages the artists to challenge themselves.

On three consecutive programs, containing works by seven choreographers, the dances cover a wide range of personal expressions by artists like Yoni Sutchi, Odelia Kupferberg and Osnat Kelner, plus a few others taking their first steps as dance creators. The most attention was received at this year’s Hazira Festival by two highly polished creations that were particularly refreshing and used sophisticated, non-slapstick humor as a tool to convey their artistic messages.

The most polished one was Home Work by Osnat Kelner, danced by Moran Itzhaki Abergil, Shani Tamari Matan, Ruth Valensi and Osnat Kelner.

Two dancers are pregnant women, sitting and watching what awaits for them soon, once they become moms with intensive “home work,” 24-7, raising their newborns.

Kelner uses set props like a portable baby bath on wheels, two strollers and endless familiar and banal objects associated with infants – think diapers, wipers, toys and towels – which were treated as perfectly legitimate objects in artistic context.

Naturally, the dancers ended up splashing water around, but in an impressive, original regimented and stylized manner. As the dance got more intricate and refined, it also became more funny and delightful.

Another humor-filled piece, but with very different atmosphere, was Kuntz by Guy Shimroni and Yaniv Avraham, two excellent, strong dancers who dedicated the piece to their four grandmothers.

They drew a map of the intricate and volatile relationship of two male friends moved by shifting moods, haunted by traces of common past histories. The pair brought to the stage effervescent energy and alternative physical expressions, outside of movement’ clichés for male duets.

Most of the other pieces also had a lot going for them, which just goes to show that Hazira is here to stay.

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