French flair

Focus France presents a small but comprehensive taste of the current dance scene there.

Focus France 311 (photo credit: Laurent Phillippe)
Focus France 311
(photo credit: Laurent Phillippe)
This past weekend, the International Exposure wrapped up at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. For five days, more than 100 international guests were hosted by the center, ushered from performance to performance in the hopes that they would invite Israeli artists to perform abroad. The hurricane of languages and nationalities swept through the center, rustling up excitement and hope. And though this event is the most concentrated interaction with outside curators the dance community is privy to each year, the Suzanne Dellal Center is constantly importing and exporting dance.
For the past several months Israel has been home to Culturescapes, a Swiss exchange program for performance and visual artists. This week, the center will host Focus France, which will offer a unique glimpse into contemporary dance from the land of éclairs and vin blanc.
Focus France is a co-production between Suzanne Dellal and the French Institute in Israel. Aiming to present a small but comprehensive taste of the current tone on the French dance scene, the directors of Focus France selected three choreographers to take part in this year’s festival.
The first artist is renowned Roubaixbased hip hop dancer and choreographer Brahim Bouchelaghem. A former member of the hip hop company Accrorap, Bouchelaghem struck out on his own several years ago to form the company Zahrbat (“he who can’t stay still”). Bouchelaghem is one of few hip hop artists supported by the National Choreographic Center in France. Known for his intimate and candid performances, Bouchelaghem has bridged the gap between concert and street dance.
During his visit to Israel, Bouchelaghem will perform his newest work, Divai Divai. Joining him on stage is Russian hip hop crew Top 9. The piece is a look at the fight to survive, to define oneself in and outside of society.
French-Israeli contemporary choreographer Yuval Pick has been living in France for several years. After completing his studies at Bat Dor and dancing for the Batsheva Dance Company, Pick relocated to Lyon, where he joined the Lyon Opera Ballet. He founded his own company, The Guests Company, in 2002 and has presented his work around Europe since. In August, Pick took over the artistic directorship of the Centre Choreographique National de Rillieux-la-Pape in the Rhone region of France. Focus France has given Pick an opportunity to present the Israeli premiere of his work Score.
The third choreographer chosen to take part in the festival is Pierre Rigal. He founded his Toulouse-based troupe, Compagnie Derniere Minute, in 2003. In this engagement, Rigal will offer a look into the beginning of his company’s creative path. The work he will present in Israel was the first piece made for his company. Entitled Erection, the piece is a 45- minute solo, which Rigal will dance himself. Based on the notion of building something from nothing, Rigal battles with gravity, empty space and his limbs. In his words, “The piece tells the long story of transition from a lying position to a standing one.”
Since the creation of this work, Rigal has gone on to choreograph pieces for a larger group of dancers. He enjoys drawing on other types of dance and music to inspire his works. He is also known to incorporate a variety of media into his choreographies. In 2009, Rigal used five hip hop dancers in the piece Asphalt. In January, Rigal premiered a new work at Festival d’Avignon entitled Micro, which he danced along with four other performers. Micro is an investigation of a rock concert and of the poetry trapped within. In conjunction with the premiere of this work, Rigal released a CD and video of the soundtrack for the piece.
Focus France will take place at the Suzanne Dellal Center from December 12-18. For tickets, visit