'Everyone wants to come to Tel Aviv. Everyone wants to perform here," says Yair Vardi, director of the Suzanne Dellal Center. Judging by the roster of world-renowned dance productions about to descend on the city, Vardi's boast is not an exaggeration. In the last few years, the annual Tel Aviv Dance Festival has become a destination for both rising stars and well-established names on the international circuit. Now, Tel Aviv Dance 2009 will mount fourteen programs at the Suzanne Dellal Center and the Tel Aviv Opera House. A special initiative will bring three of these concerts to Haifa as well.
This year's lineup of performers is particularly diverse, both in geographic origin and in aesthetic. From far-off Australia comes Tania Liedtke's Construct, which pairs power tools and physical prowess to comedic effect. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago offers a taste of American contemporary dance with repertory by Jim Vincent and Alejandro Cerruda. This popular troupe adds a bit of foreign spice with Gnawa, a dance by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato set to intoxicating North African rhythms.
Other productions have a similar international mix. Although Compagnie Heddy Maalem hails from France, the fourteen dancers in its rousing Rite of Spring are from Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, and Guadeloupe. Meanwhile, the flamenco flavored Andalucia Lejana is a collaboration by four choreographers with dancers from Spain, Japan and Israel.
Flamenco assumes center stage again in Ballet Nacional de EspaÃ±a's program, featuring fifty dancers and musicians. Also from Spain is Cienfuegos Danza, whose director Yoshua Cienfuegos takes a dark look at our animal instincts in his contemporary Cisnes Negros. Europe's strong presence in this festival is rounded out by Last Touch First, a production from the Netherlands. On a stage strewn with sheets, six dancers move in slow motion through Michael Schumacher and Jiri Kylian's spellbinding choreography.
Several choreographers and companies from Asia are also making an appearance at this year's Tel Aviv Dance. Wang Honghai's My Dream showcases the riches of Chinese dance and music, but with a twist: the work is performed by nearly 100 members of the China Disabled People's Performing Arts Troupe. The Beijing Modern Dance Company, China's premier modern dance company, displays a more adventurous style in Gao Yanjinzi's Oath and Hu Lei's Unfettered Journey. Taiwanese choreographer Shang Chi-Sun offers two more contemporary works, while three award-winning Korean choreographers share a mixed bill.
Amidst this select global spread of top-notch choreography, it is a testament to Israeli dance that three programs in the festival are devoted to work made locally. Batsheva Dance Company, which arguably has the greatest international reputation of any Israeli group, presents two contrasting concerts by artistic director Ohad Naharin. Hora, Naharin's most recent work, is danced to Isao Tomita's synthesized versions of familiar melodies and performed against a vivid green set. Naharin's Mamootot offers an altogether different viewing experience as audience members surround the dancers in the studio.
Barak Marshall's Monger was a hit in last year's festival, and now he is returning with a new production, Rooster. Twelve powerhouse dancers, one opera singer, and Margalit Oved - the legendary Inbal Dance Theater star and Marshall's mother - trace a narrative inspired by Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Y.L. Peretz's "Bontsha the Silent."
This mix of talent, combined with Marshall's masterful storytelling and marvelously multi-layered movement, sets Rooster on a pathway to success - and premiering in Tel Aviv Dance doesn't hurt either. Reflecting on his second Tel Aviv Dance experience, Marshall muses gratefully, "This is a twice in a lifetime opportunity I've been given!"
Tel Aviv Dance runs from October 16-November 13. Tickets range from 120-274 NIS and can be purchased at (03) 510-5656 (the Suzanne Dellal Center) or (03) 692-7777 (the Opera House).