More than a mirage

The Phaza Morgana festival near Eilat offers a three-day dance spectacle against a spectacular desert backdrop.

Phaza Morgana festival 521 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
Phaza Morgana festival 521
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
For most Israelis, the Negev Desert is the mass that separates Eilat from the rest of the country, the stretch of road one has to drive through to reach a long weekend spent on the banks of the Red Sea.
While many deeply appreciate the beauty of the Negev, few stop to enjoy the many natural wonders around literally every corner.
Seven years ago, the owners of Israel’s luxury hotel chain Isrotel decided to create an event that would encourage locals to take a moment to soak in the glory of the Negev. The result was a small festival called Phaza Morgana, drawing on the Hebrew term for “mirage.” This month, Phaza Morgana will draw dance lovers down to the sandy landscape of historic Timna Park for a weekend of performances, food, wine and music.
Located 25 miles north of Eilat, Timna Park is one of Israel’s most scenic sites. A former copper mine, Timna Park’s caves wind through miles of pressed red sand to create a mystical desert backdrop.
Since its inception, Phaza Morgana has featured the work of Ohad Naharin and his loyal troupe, the Batsheva Dance Company. For the past several months, Naharin has been putting together this year’s spectacle, which will include a staged performance and a number of unique installation pieces around the park. The Batsheva ensemble will dance Panorama, which was created with Timna Park in mind, with several guest artists employed by Naharin to enhance the viewer experience.
For the first time, this year’s Phaza Morgana will include a performance by an international artist – Rafael Amargo. The second night, entitled Spanish Fiesta Night, and will feature a new production by Spain’s beloved Amargo and Friends.
Amargo returns to Israel after three years, during which time he has honed his already edgy flamenco style. Rosso, which Amargo will unveil in Timna Park, is a blend of traditional flamenco and contemporary dance, woven together seamlessly by Amargo and his all-star cast. Nunzio Areni and Antonio Sinagra composed original music for this production. Following the performance, the audience is invited to an authentic Spanish dance party that will last through the night, featuring sangria, tapas and a line-up of DJs.
The third, and final, night of Phaza Morgana features a performance by Idan Raichel. For this grand show, Raichel has assembled an orchestra of more than 30 musicians, who will enhance Raichel’s already largerthan- life sound. As with any Idan Raichel performance, there will surely be a number of surprises in store for this audience.
Throughout the weekend, there will be lectures, gaga classes (Ohad Naharin’s movement technique) and flamenco lessons offered free of charge.
The directors of Phaza Morgana have made every effort to ensure that their guests will be as comfortable as possible when watching performances this year. Built especially for this production, all the seats in the amphitheater have back rests and armrests. In addition, on all three nights the doors will open from 7 p.m., allowing viewers to take in the magical scenery at sunset.
Naturally, Isrotel has put together a deluxe Phaza Morgana package, which includes three nights at their Eilat location, tickets to the shows and transportation to and from the performances.
Phaza Morgana will take place September 22-25. For more information, visit