In a most festive affair, the Ness Ziona Municipality celebrated an ambitious addition to its flourishing cultural center, that can now boast of its own small ballet company, expected by the city to strengthen the city’s image.One has to admit that the first steps showcased by the company were convincing: the city is serious about supporting Ballet Ness Ziona as a professional company, working all year around.Artistic director Eli Lazar is an Israeli dancer that worked in the United States for the past 30 years as dancer and choreographer, and had his own company in Alabama. Lazar collected a group of 10 experienced dancers who had worked with the Israel Ballet, the Panov Ballet in Ashdod and with companies abroad.Under the title Hofesh (freedom) the dancers’ confident and most pleasantly soft approach was in the neo-classical style. Flowing movements and small, easygoing formations were executed with assured maturity to music by the popular singer Yehuda Poliker. Lazar, in accordance with his own artistic preferences, chose the simple, even simplistic arrangements of Poliker’s work.Perhaps the more meaty challenges will come in the future.Lazar knew exactly how to make the dancers look good, using their expert technique whenever possible, without really raising the bar. Yoav Bosiden and Maria Selector were most impressive, and so were the tasteful costumes by Anna Khrushcheva.It was a surprisingly pleasing experience, and the company has a chance perhaps to count artistically, provided Lazar does not stay in the populist safe zone and shares the dancers with more daring choreographers.