(photo credit: Courtesy)
Every summer, the Suzanne Dellal Center takes a breather from its international dealings and focuses inward on the local dance scene. For the two steamiest months of the year, the Hot Dance Festival showcases new pieces by local choreographers. But as summer is arguably the best time to visit our beautiful country, they couldn’t deny the many foreign troupes interested in taking the stage in Tel Aviv. This year, in addition to Hot Dance, the center presents the World Dance Festival, which will take over Ganei Yehoshua’s Wohl Amphitheater for the second two weeks of July. World Dance will offer a tasting menu of a variety of styles such as classical ballet, modern, contemporary and flamenco. Dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet and the New York City Ballet will show work from their company’s repertoire. In addition, the Madrid-based company Ballet Flamenco Jose Porcel will perform for the first time in Israel. The festival will kick off with a gala featuring a performance of virtuoso dancers and up-and-coming artistic team of Rubinald Pronk and Drew Jacoby.
Pronk and Jacoby are two of the most sought-after performers these days. They are pictures of perfection – technically flawless and endlessly entrancing to watch. In the three years since their first performance as a unit, independent of any known company, they have traveled the world with their phenomenal duets.
For their Israeli debut, Pronk and Jacoby have put together a show comprised of three works: One by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; Softly As I Leave You by Lightfoot Leon; and B Sonata by Leo Mujic.
One was the first piece choreographed for Pronk and Jacoby and marked the beginning of a beautiful partnership, one that gave each something they had been seeking.
As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but the water bill is more expensive. Looking at Jacoby’s spidery limbs and naturally arched feet inspires envy in most dancers. She was born with just about every physical asset imaginable for a professional ballerina: long legs, a strong center and graceful arms. And though she had the ideal package, several years ago Jacoby found herself adrift in the dance world, without work and without a company to call home. It seemed that her overqualified frame was too much for most choreographers to handle.
“It was hard for me to find more of what I wanted because I’m a very specific type. I’m very tall,” explained Jacoby from her New York City apartment. She went on to say that her height often proved to be her disadvantage in the dance world.
Then, while working for the Complexions Dance Company in Manhattan, she spotted Pronk, who had recently left the Dutch National Ballet. “At Complexions we were always paired together, and he and I became really good friends,” said Jacoby. She approached Pronk with her idea to take their show on the road, so to speak, on a freelance basis.
“A few months later, we went for it,” she said.
Even now, having carved a niche for themselves in the competitive dance world, Pronk and Jacoby are often criticized for being overly gifted. “It is frustrating that our work has been put into the category of ‘really pretty but doesn’t mean anything.’ But our work does mean something. We may not be smiling and hugging on stage, but there is human emotion and feelings in what we’re doing. It isn’t just high kicks. When people applaud a high kick, we feel like a spectacle. It would be ideal to find a really nice balance of heart and body,” she said.
Their desire to be taken seriously, not just as moving bodies but also as performers, has propelled the duo to seek out choreographers who will put their emotive skills to the test. In the coming year, Pronk and Jacoby will work with Israeli choreographer Itzik Gallili and Andrea Miller (formerly of the Batsheva Ensemble) among others.
“We both have curiosity for new things,” explained Jacoby. “I think these projects will be something we aren’t used to.”Pronk and Jacoby will perform on July 11 at the Wohl Amphitheater in Ganei Yehoshua. For more information on the World Dance Festival, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.