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As the summer draws to a close, some parents may think they have exhausted their options for keeping their children entertained. But Michal Mor-Haim, producer of Kesem Shel Agada (the Children's Fairytale Festival) has a suggestion for weary parents:"From August 17-20, from 4:30 from 9:00 in the evening, when you don't know what to do with the children, you can come to Suzanne Dellal and have fun."
With generous support from the Suzanne Dellal Center, the arts and culture branch of the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and the Yaron Yerushalmi family, Kesem Shel Agada has grown into a beloved end-of-summer tradition. Mor-Haim notes,"People tell me,' We used to come with our children; now we are coming with our grandchildren.'"
Now in its 19th year, Kesem Shel Agada boasts four days of programming which wondrously transform the Suzanne Dellal Center into an artistic playground for children. Mor-Haim elaborates,"When you come to Suzanne Dellal [for this festival], it's something else. You come to see a show in the hall, and then you get out and you can see a lot of things outside, because we have creative workshop, outdoor performances and even a gymboree."
Indeed, this year's festival is packed with an array of performances and activities spread across Suzanne Dellal's facilities. Two spacious plazas will host free shows of storytellers, singers, plays and puppet theater. Inside the Yerushalmi Studio, Human Theater with Florence Fish-Chacham will present a story hour guaranteed to charm even the youngest audiences. Each day in Studio A, children ages six and up can boogie with their families in a special class of Gaga, the movement language developed by Batsheva Dance Company's artistic director Ohad Naharin. And the center's theaters will house the new musical The Giraffe's Neck is Hurt as well as several productions featuring a vivid display of dance.
This focus on dance celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Suzanne Dellal Center, Israel's premiere presenter of dance. Among the offerings are several theater companies which incorporate dance into their work. The Orna Porat Theater for Children and Youth, which is in residence at Suzanne Dellal, is performing Elephants Don't Dance Ballet with choreography and direction by Galia Fradkin. Other dance theater productions include the Goshen Theater's The Magical Hat and the Kibbutz Theater and Mofa Theater's The Musical Box.
Full-fledged dance companies working in a variety of styles also provide some of this year's highlights. The Dina Telem Dance Group premieres its playful Hide and Seek ...Three ...Four, while the Inbal Dance Theater, known for its performance of ethnic dance forms, traces the story of a queen who loves to dance in the Land of Happiness. Meanwhile, the rhythms of flamenco enliven both Compas:The Israel Flamenco Dance Company's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Alma Flamenco Theater for Children and Youth's Alma's Golden Shoes.
Mor-Haim hopes that besides commemorating the Suzanne Dellal Center's birthday, the festival's emphasis on dance may create a lifelong link between young audiences and the art form.
"When the children grow up," she explains,"they can come for the other shows in Suzanne Dellal." Conversely, it's not just children who will have fun at Kesem Shel Agada. Mor-Haim laughs,"the parents are sometimes enjoying more than the children!" Sounds like this festival works its magic on the young and young at heart alike.
The Kesem Shel Agada festival runs at the Suzanne Dellal Center from August 17-20. Admission for events ranges from free to 80 NIS, and tickets can be purchased at 03-5105656. The writer is a dance scholar who blogs at danceinisrael.com