Creating a niche

The Project is a plan put in motion 'to enrich the Israeli dance world'.

The Project 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Project 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Two years ago, Yair Vardi decided that the Suzanne Dellal Center could do more than present and house dance companies. He invited Barak Marshall to create Monger for a cast of Israeli dancers who had been found through extensive auditions.
The project proved to be such a success, that the following year Hana Munitz, artistic director of the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, decided to get in on the action. They brought Marshall back to Israel to make Rooster, a more technically elaborate piece, which premiered at TAPAC in 2009. This new branch of activity was clearly going well.
Of course, “What next?” was the question on everyone’s mind. Would they find another choreographer to pick up where Marshall left off? This past week, during a press conference at TAPAC, Vardi and Munitz unveiled the answer to this question: the third project in this line of initiatives. The project’s name is The Project, and it will premiere on November 30 and December 10 at TAPAC.
Vardi and Munitz teamed up with Mate Moray, a former star of the Israeli Ballet, to fill what they saw as the most pressing gap in the Israeli dance community: a repertory company. As Vardi explained to about 50 members of the press that morning, Israel is rife with choreographers and troupes.
However, each of these ensembles is dedicated to presenting the work of one or maybe two artists. Batsheva is Ohad Naharin’s vehicle for creativity with an occasional work by house choreographer Sharon Eyal. The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company is devoted to Rami Be’er.
And the Inbal Pinto Dance Company does almost exclusively the work of directors Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack.
In most other major cities in the world, at least one company presents works by many choreographers each season. Another thing lacking, according to Vardi, Munitz and Moray, was a forum for neoclassical dance. For the past decade plus, the style of movement popular in Israel, which has placed our small country at the forefront of international dance, has strayed far away from pointed toes and high legs.
“We want to enrich the Israeli dance world,” said Vardi, “to create opportunities for dancers who haven’t found their place in any of the main companies here.”
In total, 13 such dancers were selected – “such” meaning that they are too ballerina-like to fit into the grimy and rough Israeli style.
With the cast in place, Vardi, Munitz and Moray searched the pools of talent both at home and abroad for the artists they felt would be suitable choreographic voices for The Project.
In the end, they settled on three men, all of whom live in Europe. The list of chosen pieces is as follows: Through the Middle by Emanuel Gat; Light Years by Jacopo Godani; and Super Nova by Marco Gecke. Of the three, only Light Years was created specifically for The Project.
As Moray explained, Godani is often invited to set pieces for international companies. Instead of starting from scratch each time, the Italian-born choreographer begins with a core idea and develops it in stages with each group of dancers he meets.
It was important for Vardi to note that this project is at its core a project, not the fledgling attempts to start a repertory company in Tel Aviv. All 13 of the dancers are employed on a freelance basis. As for the future of The Project, Vardi and Munitz were vague. “We would like to continue to do this kind of project, to continue bringing successful works from abroad,” said Vardi.
“Maybe next time we’ll use three female choreographers,” laughed Munitz.