Standing on the brink.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Twenty-three years ago, when Nili Cohen and the Ministry of Culture and Sport
initiated the Curtain Up Festival, they had no idea the impact the event would
have on Israeli dance. At that time, modern dance was taking hold as a relevant,
invigorating art form in local culture. With only a few official ensembles
active in the field, Cohen extended a hand to independent choreographers, who
were quickly becoming a force in the community.
“We wanted to ensure the
future of the next generation of choreographers in Israel,” said Cohen in a
recent press conference for the Curtain Up Festival. “From this stage, nearly 90
percent of Israel’s current choreographers at one point emerged. Those artists
went on to further establish themselves in the field, be it by creating
companies or by continuing to independently present their choreographic
After more than two decades at her post, Cohen informed the
crowd that this would be her last time hosting such an event. “I believe this is
my final time standing up here in front of you all,” she said, “and I am very
The press conference was indeed an emotional event, with 11
artists on the verge of premieres. Each of the chosen choreographers was
presented by the artistic director who mentored throughout their creative
process, either Ronit Ziv or Yoram Karmi. Then, a short presentation of the
upcoming premiere was given.
This year’s festival consists of four
evenings, two curated by Ziv and two by Karmi.
This is Ziv’s third season
as an artistic director for Curtain Up, a role she was given after presenting
eight new works as a participant in the festival. Karmi, on the other hand, is
one of the few Israeli choreographers never to have passed through the channel
of Curtain Up.
Karmi’s evenings, Curtain 1 and Curtain 2, contain works
by five emerging choreographers. Curtain 1, Karmi explained, is a break from the
usual programming of the festival in that it contains only two works. “I wanted
to give each of these two choreographers a chance to have a bit more time on
stage,” he said. The two women in this program are Maya Brinner and Dana
Ruttenberg, both veterans of Curtain Up. Brinner’s Crumbs is a quartet in which
four dancers explore unusual movement qualities. Armed, by Ruttenberg, is also a
quartet, which has strong theatrical undertones woven together with Ruttenberg’s signature
Curtain 2 is an intensely diverse program, ranging from pure
dance to theater. Olivia Court Mesa and Yochai Ginton dance Dafi Altabeb’s duet
Never the Less. The piece presents a couple in intimate moments of both deep
love and subtle violence. Idan Yoav’s The Unfortunates is stark, political and
powerful. Yoav blends text and dance together seamlessly, creating a strange and
unusual other-worldly ambience. Finally, Eldad Ben- Sasson’s Strange Attractor
is danced to Ravel’s Bolero. This trio is Ben- Sasson’s new interpretation of an
iconic piece of music and is full of surprising dynamics.
evenings each consist of three pieces. Curtain 3 will unveil Sharon Vazana’s The
Feast, Gili Navot’s May Contain Nuts and The Hill by Roi Assaf. Vazana’s trio
for three women is sensual and charged, with images of devouring space, air and
one another throughout. Navot’s piece, also a trio, has all the groove of her
previous works, with an outstanding cast to carry it. The Hill, danced by Assaf,
Yigal Foreman and Shlomi Biton, is clever if not a bit cynical.
will begin with Shlomit Fundaminsky’s Fly, Fly, Lie. Danced by three compelling
female performers, the piece explores the inner world and sanity of a
woman. Joker by Shlomi Frige is a quirky, theatrical exploration of
entertainment. Finally, We Do Not Torture People by Noa Shadur takes a look at
the harsh educational systems of independence-era Israel.The Curtain Up
Festival will take place from November 14-29 with performances at the Jerusalem
Theater and the Suzanne Dellal Center. For more information, visit