20 years young.
(photo credit: gadi dagon)
When Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al established the Vertigo Dance Company 20 years
ago, their main motivation was to create beautiful, innovative dance
performances. With their unusual movement language and sense of other-worldly
aesthetics, the pair set out to plant their flag in the budding Israeli dance
community. At the time, they had no idea that their actions would lead to what
is becoming an international movement.
The company will celebrate its
20th anniversary season this year, beginning with the performance of Vertigo 20,
which will be presented in theaters around the country in the coming weeks. In
addition to this homage production, Vertigo will participate in a number of
ground-breaking activities at home and abroad.
Vertigo 20 is a kind of
retrospective that marks the growth and development of Wertheim and her artistic
staff since the early days. With each year in the troupe’s lifespan Wertheim, an
intensely emotional woman, unveiled new sides of herself. Her creations
often reveal the struggles she has endured over the past years, be it as a wife,
mother or one of four sisters.
With Vertigo 20, Wertheim sought to delve
into her past and to present the moments that stand out in her memory. Long-time
fans of the company will surely recognize segments or images from past
productions, such as Birth of the Phoenix, White Noise and Mana. The performance
was created as a coproduction with Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, where the
troupe will perform in June. With a cast of 12 dancers, including international
imports, Vertigo 20 is not only a hugely celebratory performance but also the
largest-scale production the company has ever taken on.
Vertigo has become synonymous with a rare kind of ecological awareness. From
their base in the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem, Wertheim and Sha’al
transitioned themselves and their dancers to the rustic environs of Kibbutz
Netiv Ha’lamed Hey. There, the company works in a mud-walled studio
overlooking the surrounding fields. The dancers drink purified rainwater during
their long hours in the scenic studio and excuse themselves to the confines of
ecological toilets. Though the members of the company continue to create
dance performances, their outlook on the environment has become as much part of
their reputation as the shows they tour with.
In the coming months,
following the premiere performances of Vertigo 20, the company will expand its
activities to include a list of projects such as the Power of Balance, the Masa
Program and a unique collaboration with a local vineyard.
Balance invites individuals with disabilities to explore movement under the
guidance of Vertigo’s staff. During their time in the ecological village,
participants are offered workshops on dance and various environmental concerns.
In 2012, Vertigo was awarded the prestigious Ruderman Prize in Disability for
this project, an award that is granted to 10 international organizations a
The Masa Program is the newest of Vertigo’s endeavors. Joining
forces with Masa Israel Journey, Vertigo offers international dancers the
opportunity to spend five months with the company as apprentices. These
dancers are invited to all company rehearsals and are encouraged to participate
in a curriculum of dance classes that includes release technique, ballet and
company repertory. The first group of the Masa dancers arrived in Israel a few
And what would a 20th anniversary be without a little wine?
For their celebrations, Vertigo has teamed up with the Ella Valley Winery to
produce four types of wine. These limited edition bottles will feature images
from Vertigo’s productions and will be on sale at Vertigo performances around
Vertigo 20 will run on February 1 at 10 p.m. at the Suzanne
Dellal Center in Tel Aviv (www.suzannedellal.org.il); on February 6 at 8:30 p.m
at Kibbutz Yifat; on February 12 at 9 p.m. at the Herzliya Performing Arts
Center (www.hohherzliya.co.il); and on February 19 at the Haifa
Auditorium. For more information, visit www.vertigo.org.il.