Dance: The others at the Between Heaven and Earth Festival

This year’s Between Heaven and Earth Festival explores being ‘different.’

November 17, 2016 21:57
3 minute read.
Between Heaven and Earth Festival

Between Heaven and Earth Festival. (photo credit: PR)

There are seemingly a lot of contradictions in the Jerusalembased organization Between Heaven and Earth, which gives voice to religious contemporary dance makers and artists.

This weekend, the annual Between Heaven and Earth Festival will commence in various venues around the capital, bringing the works of 15 artists to Jerusalem’s stages. Founded and directed by choreographer Ronen Itzhaki, Between Heaven and Earth embraces the tension of straddling incongruous aspirations. As is written on the organization’s website, “A Jewish modern dance festival is so strange that it doesn’t even fit into one of your cultural categories.”

The festival began in 2009 as a platform on which artists could explore their spirituality through dance. In that first year, five male artists participated in one shared evening. The following year, the festival spanned four days. By 2015, the interest in Between Heaven and Earth had grown so much, that three additional days were added to the program.

The arc of the festival follows an increased investment in the dance scene in Jerusalem. Whereas seven years ago a handful of choreographers chose to base themselves in the city, today a thriving community of dancers, choreographers, companies and theoreticians call Jerusalem home. The scene has a vibe and an esthetic all its own, markedly different than that of Tel Aviv.

This year’s program is center – the concept of otherness. The 15 artists that will present work have all approached being different, strange or foreign in their practice.

Last night, Itzhaki’s Kaet Ensemble premiered a new work called Heroes.

The all-male company took the Central Bus Station as inspiration for the creation.

“The station dons and shucks the shapes of its heroes: The Haredi with the electronic sound, the General Remedy on Galatz, the former soldier security guard. Because Israel isn’t a melting pot, it’s a Land of Dear that is stretched to its ‘others,’ to the edges that do not meet,” writes Itzhaki of Heroes.

The festival will continue next week with eight additional programs. Program B includes two new works: Ayelet Cohen’s One of Two Thirds and Orit Shaul’s Inner View. Program C also boasts two premieres: Idan Cohen’s long-awaited Orfeo and Maayan Horesh’s What Happened to Cain? Program D is a screening of celebrated filmmaker Yanai Jacob Lein’s The Chaos Within. The film follows a young man’s departure from his religious home to the unruly streets of Tel Aviv, to freedom, abandon, drug abuse and revelation.

Program E brings two solos – Noa Dar’s Play Because and Nava Frenkel’s I Look After to Jerusalem. Both works deal with the desire to be more than one thing, to change form and to break with one’s boundaries.

In Program F, veteran choreographer Iris Erez will reveal her newest work, the solo Locally, to the Jerusalem audience.

Program G brings three premieres by young female artists to the stage of the Gerard Behar Center. The evening will consist of Yuli Kovbasnian’s Marie/ Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Do That; Ester Zimmerman’s Take It Off; and Keren Notik’s All About Me.

The festival will close with another feminine evening at the Israel Museum.

First, the Nehara Dance Company will premiere a new work, Shin (as in the Hebrew letter) by up-and-coming choreographer Doron Raz. The work takes a microscope to women’s connection to life source, to freedom and otherness.

Nehara’s performance will be followed by the Jerusalem premiere of Talia Beck’s W. The piece is a collaboration with actor and performer Zvika Fishzon, who is most recognizable from Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack’s creations. Beck and Fishzon’s meeting offers a candid and intimate window into the meeting of two very different individuals.

The Between Heaven and Earth Festival will run through November 24. For more information, visit

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