On the scene

The two-week Curtain Up dance festival in Tel Aviv debuts 12 new pieces.

November 12, 2010 16:34
3 minute read.
Ishonim by Dana Rotheberg

311_male dancers. (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)

On an average day if you were to meander over to Neveh Tzedek around a quarter to nine in the evening, you would be sure to find a crowd of dance lovers gathered at the entrance of the Suzanne Dellal Center. Regardless of the season, the center hosts a show on virtually every night of the year.

However, for the next 10 days there are no dance shows at all. There are two reasons for this abrupt pause in the programming of Israel’s bustling dance hub. The first is the Piano Festival, which will fill the three buildings of the SDC with beautiful music. The other is the preparation for the year’s most important local festival, Curtain Up. Over a two-week period, the main stage of the SDC will house hundreds of hours of technical rehearsals for the 12 new pieces that will premiere from November 23 to December 4 under the umbrella of Curtain Up.

Last year, after years of somewhat smooth sailing, Nili Cohen, the director of the Ministry of Culture and Sports’s dance department, decided to mix things up. Breaking away from the accepted format in which one artistic director selected choreographers through a long audition process and mentored their work over several months of creation, Cohen opened the festival to multiple directors. She chose six established artists, who then invited their favorite emerging choreographers to share an evening with them. This initiative was said to be part of the festivities associated with the 20th anniversary of the SDC.

Even before the fruits of these changes were seen on stage, many wondered if this was the new Curtain Up or if the festival would return to its former format.

The answer is the latter. However, the list of artistic directors is far less obvious than that of last year.

Whereas 2009 showcased works chosen and created by internationally known choreographers such as Inbal Pinto, Yasmeen Godder and Noa Vertheim, this year’s artistic directors hail directly from the local fringe scene. The chosen four are Tamar Borer, Sahar Azimi, Renana Raz and Ronit Ziv. Each of them has presented work in previous Curtain Up’s and is currently choreographing independently, outside the realm of any major institution. The quartet were given the task of assembling an evening of short pieces. It was left to the discretion of each curator to allot the time and funds available to them.

The lineup for this year is as follows:

Curtain One, curated by Tamar Borer, will host two works: Homesick by Iris Erez and Father and Feather by Michael Getman.

Curtain Two is curated by Ronit Ziv and will present works by Ofra Idel, Inbal Oshman, Rotem Tashach and Tami and Ronen Itzhaki. The third curtain, under the artistic directorship of Renana Raz, consists of three pieces by three female choreographers: Dana Ruttenburg, Gili Navot and Maya Brinner.

Finally, Curtain Four is hosted by Sahar Azimi and is a showcase of male dance makers Ariel Cohen, Shlomi Frige and Elad Shechter.

Each curtain will have two evenings in Tel Aviv and one at The Jerusalem Theater.

Curtain Up is an important forum for young and unknown dance makers. The competition to be accepted is fierce, and the benefits of participating considerable. In essence, the festival commissions a new work from each choreographer, awarding them between NIS 25,000 and NIS 30,000. This sum, small as it may seem to the outside world, is essential to the process of creating a new dance piece and is very hard to come by. In addition, the festival is a major attraction because it is an excellent place to see the pieces that will be performed in Israel and at festivals throughout Europe and the US in the coming year at reduced prices.

Whereas an average show at the SDC would cost NIS 100, all Curtain Up tickets are NIS 60.

Curtain Up will run from November 23 to December 4. For information about dates and tickets, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.

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