Bored is not an option

From jazz to kids to art to dance, this year's Israel Festival brings it and brings it hard.

klipa (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The emphasis of this year's Israel Festival, which runs from May 24 to June 11, is Israel, with 10 local offerings and six international collaborations. Add to that some cream-of-the-crop foreign visitors, and we're good on the festival front, too. Let's take off with Momentum, a multimedia and interdisciplinary, high-energy spectacular for the family from Mayumana. Another festival familiar is from Klipa, the always original performance art company, making its fifth festival appearance with K. Based on Kafka texts, the show winds through the cells and other spaces of the former Palestine Prison in the Russian compound, which is today a museum. After a decade of directing musical and variety shows, mime Hanoch Rosenn returns to his vocation with Return of the Mime, a joyous trip through the human condition. For the kids, the festival commissioned award-winning Moshe Kaptan (Fiddler on the Roof) to direct revivals of The Soulbird and The 16th Sheep, both beloved Israeli classics. Composer and bass player Avishai Cohen features in a jazz special devoted to his latest album, Aurora. International jazz at the festival also hosts the Joshua Redman Trio, Arcoluz from France and The Devil's Quartet from Italy, among others. And - wait for it - 30 years on, the fabled band Tislam returns with a two-hour Israeli rock special, complete with video clips from the glory years. Amongst the collaborative performances, Switzerland and Israel have teamed up to bring us Orlando, which tells the story of a young Elizabethan nobleman/woman who lives for 300 years, using puppets, video, objects and other visual effects. A world music collaboration between 20-year-old Azerbaijani singer Bayimkhanum Mirzoyeva and the Dagestan-born brothers Peretz and Marek Eliahu, presents the music of the Caucasus filtered through Jewish consciousness. Theater visitors include the Georgia State Theater from Tbilisi making its festival debut with The Lady and the Lapdog that combines puppet and human actors to tell the bittersweet story of an adulterous affair and its consequences. Tricicle 2, a trio of comedians from Spain, brings Garrick, a sort of homage to the great 18th century British actor David Garrick, who was reputed to be so funny that doctors sent their patients to him to be healed by laughter. Israelis, it seems, are Indian dance aficionados. So this year the festival hosts South Indian dance virtuoso Alarmel Vally, presenting her interpretations of the classic Bharatanatyam dance. Making its festival debut is the Bessie-winning company Lines, from the US, created in 1982 by choreographer Alonzo King with Rasa, melding East and West, and Irregular Pearl, saluting the Baroque perception of beauty. The Montreal Grand Ballet from Canada and the Spanish National Ballet present works by their artistic directors, Gradimir Pankov and Nacho Duato, respectively. The festival's gala opening will be a concert of Polish music played by the Israel Philharmonic to mark the end of Israel/Poland Year of Culture. 30-year-old conductor Michal Dworzynski is regarded as one of the world's rising podium stars. Classical music enthusiasts can look forward to works by J.S. Bach and Henry Purcell - 350 years since his birth - by the UK consort Fretwork, as well as to a program that includes lesser-known baroque composers such as Matthias Weckmann (1619-1674) and Johan RosenmŸller (1619-1684) from Germany's Cantus Coelln. And of course, there's music at Ein Kerem over the Shavuot weekend, celebrating Mendelssohn's birthday as well as a Beethoven marathon with host/pianist Gil Shohat. There's a lot more - mostly in Jerusalem, but also in Holon, Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Modi'in. Tickets, in deference to the tight economy, range from NIS 80 to NIS 210. Blue skies are all but guaranteed. The Israel Festival runs from May 24 to June 11. For scheduling and ticketing information, visit