Some summer spice

This year's 'Maholohet' festival offers a wide array of dance with a twist of local flavor.

Artlana dance 88 248 (photo credit: Avi Harel)
Artlana dance 88 248
(photo credit: Avi Harel)
Even the numbers of the Suzanne Dellal Center's SummerDance Festival are impressive: eight weeks of concerts, 76 performances, 11 premieres and one group of special guests from abroad. But what's behind the statistics - an exceptionally diverse assortment of dance - is even more extraordinary. SummerDance 2009 (Maholohet, a play on the phrase "hot dance" in Hebrew) has showcased the wealth of Israeli concert dance since its inception 13 years ago. What started as a three-week festival gradually expanded, and now, with the Suzanne Dellal Center celebrating its 20th anniversary, SummerDance is having its hottest season yet. In contrast to many shorter and more narrowly focused dance festivals, SummerDance is jam-packed with an unparalleled array of performances displaying the breadth and depth of Israel's dance scene. Besides well-established troupes such as the Batsheva Dance Company and Inbal Pinto Dance Company, many independent choreographers will be included on the program. Older artists with a distinguished history of performing and creating, such as Rina Schenfeld and Alice Dor-Cohen, will be featured alongside relative newcomers, like the team of Artour Astman and Ilana Bellahsen. Large ensembles, smaller groups and solos all find their place on the festival's stage. But most striking is the range of dance genres which will heat up SummerDance. All shades of contemporary dance, from more classically influenced styles to cutting-edge experimental work, will be represented. Israeli choreographers also put their own flavor on many dance forms from around the world. Bangoura offers energizing African dance, Anjali blends classical schools of Indian dance, Elina Pechersky puts her own twist on Middle Eastern dance and several artists will spice up the festival with their take on Spanish flamenco dance. This year's SummerDance is particularly notable for its large number of premieres. In their first choreographing effort together, virtuoso dancers Astman and Bellahsen journey through a vibrant imaginary world in ArtLana. Meanwhile, Idan Cohen transforms a world that is well-known to many dance-goers: Swan Lake. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famed score seems to reverberate through three dancers' bodies in Cohen's riveting contemporary choreography. After intensive periods of creation, several seasoned dance makers are also revealing their latest works. Sally-Anne Friedland's A Private Collection captures the eye not only with her dynamic movement vocabulary, but also with video and photographs that provide an inside look into her process. Dor-Cohen's Talk to Me speaks of communication and partnership through the powerful performances of Talia Paz and Amnon Damti. And set to music by Laurie Anderson, Rina Schenfeld's Angels is filled with visions of both earthly and heavenly beings. Other highlights of SummerDance include premieres by the Acre Dance Center, Kolben Dance, Elina Pechersky, Ronit Ziv, Niv Sheinfeld and Matanicola vs. Yasmeen Godder. In addition to this tempting spread of homegrown talent, dancers from the renowned Paris Opera Ballet will light up the stage in a mixed bill. With a program so richly varied, SummerDance2009 promises something hot for everyone. Runs now through August 29. Tickets: (03) 510-5656 or