Stepping Out

The annual Spring Festival is back in Rishon Lezion – indoors, outdoors and more diverse than ever.

Sabra: Modern Dance 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Sabra: Modern Dance 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘The festival program features mainly Israeli premieres of international productions, based on world music or what I should call ’music of the roots,’ as well as original Israeli dance performances,” says veteran Israeli artistic producer Eli Grunfeld. Together with dancer/choreographer Ido Tadmor, he is co-directing the annual Spring Festival, which takes place in Rishon Lezion from May 12 –21.
“The idea behind the programming is to create an event that would be attractive for local audience, but not only. Judging by the high demand for tickets, it looks like it’s succeeding.”
Working with a co-director, Grunfeld says they’re a team: ”Each of us brings his connections with art and artists. There’s no clear division like Ido is responsible only for dance programs, while I take care of music.
Rather, it is a specialization, and there is a lot of cooperation and discussions.”
Grunfeld explains that the shows are suited to Rishon’s Heichal Hatarbut major hall with its large, wellequipped stage, and to the small auditorium at the lower level of the building, which is ideal for intimate chamber programs.
“This year for the first time we also have huge outdoor shows, as well as free shows in the park, which actually form a festival within the festival.”
Among the major outdoor shows, Grunfeld names French ensemble Les Passagers, where the dancers draw a painting on the wall while performing snappling (rappelling).
“Dancing on the walls is this group’s specialization,” he says, adding that another “flying” ensemble, Voladores de Papantla from Mexico, will present its traditional art. “This is a folklore group of Indians, which presents the ancient art of snappling, so different from the sportive snappling of today.”
Also performing in the park is Mayumana. This fiery Israeli group, which performs to capacity audiences here and around the world, celebrates its 15th year with an exhilarating show. Grunfeld stresses that Israeli artists who have successful careers abroad are welcome at the festival.
“The festival opens with a concert by French/Israeli singer/songwriter Keren Ann, who will inaugurate her new album here,” he says Another singer who will attract throngs of music lovers is Greek singer Eleftheria Arvanitaki. “Her show could have been presented in the park, but the Heichal Hatarbut auditorium is large enough for concerts of that kind and is still intimate. It seats 900 and is beautifully designed.”
In a new festival production, the essentially classical Israeli Ballet troupe will perform works by Itzik Galili, a young Israeli choreographer who lives in Holland and works with major modern dance ensembles. “Galili brings neoclassical dance to the troupe With him, they do things they’ve never done before,” says Grunfeld. “From projects like this, not only the audience but also the artists gain a lot.”
Meanwhile, in a totally different production commissioned by the festival, Israeli actor Guy Zoaretz, who is also the host of the Survivor TV series, will sing songs in Ladino. “His family comes from Saloniki [Thessaloniki]. These are his roots, and I doubt if he would have created this intimate Prince of Ladino program if not for the festival,” says Grunfeld. In addition, actress Galit Giat will present a tribute to three Israeli divas, singing the songs of Shoshana Damari, Yaffa Yarkoni and Esther Ofarim.
“As you can see, the festival gives leading Israeli artists the opportunity to create programs that do not necessarily belong to their field,” says Grunfeld.
For more information: For tickets: (03) 948-8688.