On pointe

The Israel Ballet’s winter playbill includes a piece given to the company by legendary choreographer George Balanchine.

Israel Ballet dancers  521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel Ballet dancers 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are some pieces of music that are so deeply embedded into our culture that we forget their origin. Quotes from plays are uttered frequently by those who have never read the words in print. A masterpiece can often transform into a thousand jingles, catch phrases or melodies chimed by jewelry boxes. Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” is one such tune.
As a little girl in a tutu taking ballet class twice a week, December meant one thing to me… The Nutcracker Suite. Whether growing up in the United States or Europe, ballet lovers know that snow on the ground is equal to the familiar “Marzipan Variation” or the “Sugar Plum Suite.” All over the world, winter is the time to rush to the theaters to take in Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece. It’s hard to imagine not enjoying watching a world of candy spring to life, turning and leaping on stage in colorful costumes.
This year, the Israel Ballet invites audiences to watch Clara dance with the Mouse King and to be swept away into a seasonal (albeit Christmas) tradition.
For the new year, the directors of the Israel Ballet have put together a playbill full of classical delights. This season they will show The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, another staple of any ballet ensemble, and a triple bill including Symphony in C, Harmonium and Mendelssohn Concerto.
Artistic director Berta Yampolsky, a legend in the Israeli dance community, choreographed four of the five pieces in this program.
Renowned American choreographer George Balanchine gave the fifth piece to the company. The Israel Ballet fostered a long-standing relationship with Balanchine, dating back to the mid-1970s. To this day, many of the company’s most often-performed works are the fruits of Balanchine’s labor. And, in addition to honoring well-known artists, they are in constant search of new talents, often opening their doors to emerging choreographers.
Since its inception in 1967, the Israeli Ballet has brought a taste of the old world to local audiences. It is no secret that Israeli dance is dominated by modern styles; however, directors Yampolsky and Hillel Markman provide a link between our young country and the timeless ballet technique. The company is the only troupe in the country dedicated to presenting classical and neoclassical dance.
Now based in Tel Aviv, the Israel Ballet also houses a school, considered to be the top academy for young classical dancers in Israel.
Yampolsky and Markman met in the 1960s. First they were dance partners, then life partners. After being married, the two quickly took off for London. After years of performance and study abroad, the couple returned to Israel and founded the Classical Ballet of Holon. Yampolsky took to creating pieces for the company’s repertoire, which remains a large part of her work. Over the past four decades, Yampolsky has made more than 20 full-length ballets for the Israel Ballet. In 1985, she choreographed her version of The Nutcracker. Two years later she tried her hand at Sleeping Beauty. Both ballets were well received and continued to be performed by the company. The ballet company has been based in Tel Aviv officially since 2004.
This program will be performed around Israel, in theaters from the north to the south of the country. If the weather outside doesn’t convince you that it’s winter, perhaps the ballet will.
The Israel Ballet will perform in Ness Ziona on January 3. For further dates, times and locations, visit www.iballet.co.il.