Blooming, flying, murmuring

The 51st Israel Festival is designed to entertain and inspire.

Double Duo  (photo credit: Petr Otta)
Double Duo
(photo credit: Petr Otta)
It is widely accepted that the arts are often a country’s best ambassador. Be it abroad or at home, the creations of a given land and their ability to speak of that place’s reality can often break through barriers that even the deftest politician cannot. In the coming weeks (May 24 to June 14), Jerusalem will become a beacon for the artistic ambassadors of a host of countries.
The Israel Festival’s 51st annual happening will include performances by dance, multidisciplinary theater, circus, jazz and world music ensembles during three weeks of non-stop action. Boasting a variety of shows that entertain and inspire, the program offers something for almost everyone.
For dance lovers, this year’s program offers a taste of several different styles.
Tangueros del Sur, meaning Tango Dancers of the South, is one of the world’s leading tango troupes. Led by choreographer and director Natalia Hills, the Argentinean ensemble is comprised of 20 leading dancers and musicians. Hills made a name for herself as one of the lead dancers in Luis Bravo’s Broadway production Forever Tango. Her troupe is considered to be one of the leading Argentine tango ensembles in the world. (May 31, at 9 p.m; June 1 at 4 p.m; June 2-3 at 9 p.m. at the Jerusalem Theater.) Choreographer Saburo Teshigawara is largely credited with changing the Japanese dance community. Since 1986, when Teshigawara premiered his work at the Bagnolet International Choreography Competition, he has been a voice of modernity and progress. As a performer, Teshigawara is entrancing and has held huge crowds many times over with his one-man shows. His taste for elaborate sets only deepens the striking aesthetic of his pieces.
Along with his company, Karas, Teshigawara will perform Mirror and Music during the festival. (June 7-9, the Jerusalem Theater) A staple of Israeli programs, Momix will return to Israel with Botanica (June 10 at 9 p.m., the Jerusalem Theater). The work of artistic director Moses Pendleton, Botanica explores the four seasons of the year. As with all Momix pieces, this work is highly visual.
Pendleton began his career as one of the founding member of Pilobolus Dance Company. His choreographies are a combination of circus-like gravity defiance and modern dance. In each of Momix’s pieces, the location becomes clear within seconds of viewing. In Lunar Sea, Pendleton illuminated the stage with black light, creating a mirage of creatures pulsing through the underwater space. Opus Cactus was a desert adventure, while Baseball was a celebration of American’s national sport. In Botanica, the acrobatic dancers of the company twirl and leap their way through a series of optical illusions, creating stunning images of a blooming garden.
In late 2011, Israeli choreographer Roi Assaf premiered Six Years Later…during the Curtain Up Festival. The duet, danced by Assaf and Hagar Yunger-Harel, went on to win first place in the Copenhagen International Choreography Competition. Assaf’s duet will be presented alongside Ma Hunt by the Czech duo Dot504 in a double bill entitled Double Duet.
(June 5, the Jerusalem Theater, 8:30 p.m.) Dot504 is the work of dancers and choreographers Lenka Vagnerova and Pavel Masek.
Founded in 2006, the troupe is dedicated to presenting dance theater works.
Beyond dance, other highlights of this year’s program include Murmures des Murs (Murmuring of the Walls) by director Victoria Thierree Chaplin, performed by her daughter, and granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, Aurelia Thierree.
Continuing in a line of whimsical, circus-like theater pieces, Chaplin’s play flaunts fantasy with reality in blissful harmony.
The Flying Karamazov Brothers’ performance is like no other. Originally from California, the Karamazovs are based in New York City, where they are known to tickle their audiences pink on a regular basis. With a combination of juggling, comedy, music and dance, the four brothers are extremely talented performers. The Karamazovs have been around since 1973 and have performed with The Grateful Dead and The Who.
The Israel Festival will take place from May 24 to June 14 with performances at The Jerusalem Theater, Binyenei Ha’uma in Jerusalem and the Mediatheque Theater in Holon. For more information, visit