If you had told a 30-year-old Anat Danieli that she would find herself at the helm of the most up-andcoming dance center in all of Israel, she probably would have chuckled a bit and changed the subject. And yet, at 51, Danieli is uniquely positioned to change the face of the local dance community and the way it functions in society. With the opening of the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam, Danieli unleashed a can of worms or rather questions about how dance interacts with the audience and the greater community, how dance is presented and how it is created. This month, together with the Kelim team (Tal Gravinsky, Moran Bash and Moshe Shechter), Danieli will present the March Hare Festival, the kingpin of Kelim’s esthetic line.
“It was never my dream to have a center,” laughs Danieli.
She has just finished a successful Headstart campaign, which raised funds for the renovation of an additional space at Kelim. Kelim is supported by the Bat Yam Municipality, as well as the Ministry of Culture and Sport. However, due to criteria of these institutions and Kelim’s newness, the center must seek private funding.
Together with raising three children, making Kelim’s ends meet has proven to be very challenging for Danieli.
“I didn’t plan this,” she says. “It happened by chance. It wasn’t my dream to do any of this, but I am very happy to be doing it.”
Danieli began her career as a dancer and choreographer, hitting the ground running at a young age.
From 1988 through 2007, she created at least one piece per year, including commissions for companies in Israel and abroad.
“I started to choreograph very young. I had my own company and was working like crazy. I was very concerned with the question of success back then. ‘Am I succeeding or not?’ And then I had kids, and my mother got sick, so I stopped choreographing for a time. I came back to make one piece, Death of a Lady, but I was very tired afterwards. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t create anything for five years,” she recounts.
During her choreographic cleanse, Danieli found herself back in the studio, this time as a mentor to younger choreographers.
“I couldn’t create, but I could teach.
I felt that I could answer this need that existed. I started a group, which happened mostly because there was interest on the part of the women that participated. There were four of them – Tami Leibovich, Tal Gravinsky, Michal Hersonski and Maya Dunsky.
We worked together for seven months, and then I said, ‘Enough.’ But then more people joined, and the interest grew,” she says.
Gravinsky approached Danieli with the idea of opening a school for choreographers.
“When people talk to me about Kelim, I always tell them that I can’t take the credit because it was Tal’s idea,” Danieli smiles.
Together, the two looked for a space to house this program, finally landing on an old army base in Bat Yam. Today, all traces of ammunition and khaki uniforms are gone, replaced by a sun-washed, jaw-dropping space.
Along with inspiring others to create, Kelim proved so moving to Danieli that she broke her promise six months early.
“I found it brought me back to creation,” she says. “I made a piece with Tami Leibovich, which we perform in the museum, and I am currently making a new work with Omer Uziel.”
Now Danieli experiences the sensation of success when she sees artists meeting one another on the way into or out of the studio or when someone feels at home enough to wipe down the counter in the Kelim kitchen.
“Those moments really move me. I see them happening, and I say to myself, ‘Wow, Kelim is really a center.’” Kelim hosts a number of programs, such as a two-year choreography program, workshops, artistic residencies, performances, community outreach, and is part of the Viennese Imflieger Changing Spaces format. The March Hare Festival, which is now in its third year, gives a clear sense of the connective thread among these endeavors.
“There is an artistic line at Kelim, but it is still hard to define. I think that it’s about conceptual dance, about dance and theory meeting, about a style of dance that emerged in Europe in the 1990s and has made its way to Israel over the past few years. But in general, we are trying to stay open, to say no as little as possible. So much of what goes on at Kelim is the product of the desire of different individuals, so we would like to keep that alive, the spirit that Kelim is a place to make things happen,” she says.
This year’s festival will include several key examples of the style that Danieli speaks of. Many of the artists to present work this year have taken part in the residency program, thus their pieces are tailor-made for the Kelim space.
The program will include premieres by Talia Beck, Tami Leibovich, Yuli Kovbasnian, Yaara Nirel and Maayan Liberman, Nitzan Lederman, Shira Eviatar, Moran Abergel and Kim Taitelbaum, as well as Austrian artist Simon Meyer.
The timetable has been specifically designed to promote hanging out, explains Danieli.
“We want people to come, eat something, meet one another and talk. It’s less about coming just for the one show and more about mingling, responding and making connections. Following each performance, there will be a discussion with the artists. We want the festival to be comfortable, pleasant and inviting. We want locals to come, meet us, spend time in the space,” she says.The March Hare Festival will take place March 16 to 19 in Bat Yam. For more information, visit www.kelim.org.il.