Back on pointe

After a rocky few months, the Israel Ballet presents an evening of three works marking the company’s hopeful return to the limelight.

Ballet dance370 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
Ballet dance370
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
One of the most unique things about the Israeli dance scene is that it consists almost exclusively of contemporary and modern troupes. In almost every other country that values dance as a form of artistic expression, ballet leads the pack in popularity and prestige.
As the oldest and most practiced formal dance technique, ballet is a staple in both performance and education. Until recently, the one and only local ballet troupe, the Israel Ballet, maintained a very low profile. However, that is no longer the case.
Earlier this year, the ballet was sent into a tailspin when founder and long-time artistic director Berta Yampolsky was fired. Yampolsky had held tightly to the reins of the ballet for 45 years, drawing much criticism from the community.
While she kept the troupe up and running, her outdated taste and approach to dance left a dark cloud over the company’s north Tel Aviv home. Upon her removal, a short list of names was drawn up for her replacement, including Ido Tadmor as well as Holland-based choreographer Itzik Galili. At the time, Tadmor was working with the company as an artistic advisor for the Spring Festival.
“I started to work there for a month before we knew who was chosen for the job,” said Tadmor in a recent interview. While hitting the ground running at the ballet, Tadmor continues to perform his own works outside of the framework of the company, leaving him little time to catch his breath.
“The same day, I had a meeting with the dancers. In that meeting I told them my vision for the company.
One of the first things I said was that I would preserve and strengthen classical ballet in Israel. I knew the dancers were worried that I would turn the company into another Batsheva. I told them that I want to keep it a classical, repertory company.
“The next thing I said was that my door would always be open and that they could always come talk to me as a friend, not just as a boss. I was worried that the dancers wouldn’t be on board but they really are and they understand that to save the ballet, we must work together.”
This weekend, the Israel Ballet will present an evening of three works, entitled Moon, marking the company’s hopeful return to the limelight. The evening will consist of Moon Over Jupiter by American choreographer Dwight Rhoden, One by Idan Sharabi and Les Sylphides by Michel Fokine.
“Dwight is a friend and the director of the American company Complexions,” said Tadmor. “He is a choreographer that has a very neoclassical approach, however the dancers will still get to use their technique. The women dance the entire piece in pointe shoes. Moon over Jupiter is a piece that uses music by Rachmaninov, who is one of my favorite composers.
The work brings out their virtuosity but also the character and artistry of each one of them.
This seemed like a great choice for now.
“Les Sylphides is one of my favorite ballets of all time. It is a very important ballet that is performed by almost every important company in the world. The Israel Ballet hasn’t performed it in over 20 years. It is the pinnacle of pure ballet both in the physicality as well as the aesthetic.”
One is a quartet for three women and a man with music by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin.
Tadmor has spent the last three decades on stage with companies such as Bat Dor Dance Company, Batsheva Dance Company and New York-based Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, dazzling audiences with his virtuosic skills. As part of the local dance community, Tadmor has worn many hats. In 1995, he founded his own company, which performed widely throughout Israel. He has served as an artistic advisor for a long list of ensembles and festivals. His choreographies have been seen around the globe.
At 50 years of age, Tadmor shows no signs of slowing. In fact, in the past several years he seems to have rediscovered his love of the stage.
He has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America with his own work and as a dancer in pieces by other choreographers. The role of artistic director of a ballet represents a major challenge for Tadmor.
In the coming season, Tadmor will present Moon, followed by David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast and Marius Petipa’s La Bayadere. In addition to his work with the company, Tadmor has revived the school of the Israel Ballet.
“Last year, there were 35 students enrolled. Now we have over 200 and they keep coming. In such a short period of time, not more than five months, there has already been a major change. The atmosphere has lifted. There is a lot of newness in the air. The home of the ballet has become an open place; dancers from here and abroad come to take classes, even former company members who haven’t been in the building for years. It’s not a simple job but already I feel a sense of success,” smiled Tadmor.Moon will be presented on September 21 at 9 p.m at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. For more information, visit