Spring fever

The Jerusalem Academy presents its program of Spring Dance.

March 29, 2015 14:27
3 minute read.
The Jerusalem Academy

The Jerusalem Academy presents its program of Spring Dance. (photo credit: JONATHAN DROR)

In 1993, Prof. Neta Pulvermacher introduced New York City audiences to the notion of the children’s house with Five Beds: Children of the Dream. Created from the choreographer’s childhood memories from kibbutz Lehavot Habashan, Five Beds transported a small, plain room from the north of Israel to American stages. The work quickly became Pulvermacher’s calling card and has been performed consistently since. On Sunday, Five Beds will bring that room back to Israel during the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance Spring Dance performance.

“The piece is very interesting,” says Pulvermacher.

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“I created it for my son when he was born because I wanted to tell him the story of how I grew up, which was very different from how he was going to grow up in New York. The name came from Bruno Bettleheim’s book Children of the Dream, which compares the communal child-rearing system to that of middle-class families in the States. The dream of the kibbutz was a kind of ideology that brought people together and made them do extraordinary things. I created the piece in 1993, some 23 years ago, and it has never been off stage for more than a year.”

Pulvermacher returned to Israel two years ago to take on the position of dean of dance at the academy. Since arriving on the scene, Pulvermacher has meticulously reviewed the curriculum, adding and subtracting to make the student experience as rich and diverse as possible.

“The first thing these students do at the academy is work with me on recreating and reconfiguring a work,” she explains. “Together, we go through the process from the studio to the stage, during which time I try to infect them with the bug of creativity.”

Over the weeks of rehearsals, Pulvermacher opened up her inner thoughts and memories to the students. By exposing her creative process, she was able to push the dancers to contemplate their own creative paths.

“They went on a beautiful journey.

The piece allowed them to visit their own childhood. It brought up a lot of questions such as ‘If I was to construct a dance about my own childhood, how would I go about it?’ and ‘What does it mean to construct movement from memory?’ Pondering these questions was the value of this process beyond just sweating,” she says.

For its Israeli debut, which will be performed by 18 first-year students, Pulvermacher made significant changes to the piece. Originally, Five Beds referred to five cots on the stage.

“I had to throw out the beds because there are 18 dancers.

Making the piece work without the beds was a challenge, but I become an interesting choreographer and teacher when there is a problem I have to solve. What do you do when you can’t use the beds, which are so central? How do you take a work that is atrociously hard physically and fit it to first-year students?” she says.

The challenges that faced Pulvermacher and her students were the point of the entire experience, she explains.

Five Beds will share the evening with works by Idan Cohen, Talia Beck, Noa Zuk and Roy Assaf. Both Beck and Zuk were commissioned to create original works for the students of the academy as part of the Dance Channel’s program.

“Noa was the first choreographer that we commissioned as part of the program. She spent six months working with the students and created a beautiful work for 20 of them. Idan Cohen, who pursued his master’s at the academy, embarked upon a creative process with the dancers as well. One of our graduates is dancing in his company now,” beams Pulvermacher. “These kinds of initiatives connect the school to the professional world, which is very important.”

The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance’s Spring Dance will take place on March 29 at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem. For more information, visit www.arts-festival.jerusalem.muni.il.

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