Getting intimate

The theme of this year's Intimadance Festival is the fourth wall -- that illusive barrier between the dancer and the audience.

Intimidance 311 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
Intimidance 311
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
Watching excerpts from this year’s Intimadance Festival at the Tmuna Theater this morning, I felt keenly aware of the political undertones ebbing and flowing through the Israeli dance community. Though the festival is not outwardly commenting on the current status of our country, the recurrence of several themes, such as the song “We Have No Other Country” by Gali Atari made an undeniable statement. Perhaps this impression was fostered by coincidence. Perhaps the rest of the 12 pieces to be premiered during the four days of Intimadance are about fairies and love affairs. However, what was clear this morning was the freedom that participating artists seem to feel in saying what’s on their minds on Tmuna’s rough and tough stage.
This is the 12th annual Intimadance Festival, an event that is unique in the local dance world. Kicking off on Thursday night, perfectly timed with Tel Aviv’s White Night and going through the weekend, Intimadance challenges the concept of conventional dance performances.
Unlike other forums for emerging choreographers, Intimadance provides artists with a phrase, word or concept to expound upon, as well as mentors who follow their progress throughout their creative processes. This year, those mentors are choreographer and dancer Irad Mazliach and Nava Tzukerman, artistic director of the grungy-chic space. Both were present to direct, assist and contribute throughout the journey.
“We don’t do this festival because we have to do it,” said Tzukerman this morning. “Each year we go on a voyage with the artists. A journey that is full of ideas and questions.”
To begin their sojourn, Mazliach and Tzukerman sat their 12 chosen choreographers down in front of Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Then they unveiled the theme for this year’s festival: the ever-present fourth wall.
For anyone who has performed on a proscenium stage, this notion speaks volumes. Mazliach and Tzukerman challenged their team to approach the invisible yet all-too-felt barrier between themselves and their audience.
The choreographers participating this year are varied in age, experience and style. They range from those at the beginning of their careers to artists like Rina Shenfeld and Nimrod Freed, whose presence in the local dance community has been consistent for decades. Many of the pieces are a mélange of text, movement and behavior, a true indication that Intimadance is truly a safe environment for artists to take risks, to make bold statements and to employ tactics they have not yet tried. That said, if pure dance is what you’re after, you might be in for a shock with this festival.
A few sure highlights are Hillel Kogan’s hearty attack of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Leo Lerus’s Pitipi, in which Lerus explores the fourth wall by physically connecting himself to an audience member with a long piece of rope. An intriguing duet by Dafi Eltabeb shows dancers Rosalind Noctor and Olivia Court Mesa locked in a passionate smooch just before the lights flash off.
Mazliach and Tzukerman found it essential to present each work in the most appropriate location in the space. Throughout the course of the festival, performances will take place in literally every nook and cranny in Tmuna. The passage between the stage and the bar area will house work, as will the parking lot outside. In addition, the festival boasts an impressive line-up of dance films, including the works of eighth-grade students from the Cinema Department at the Arison School.
And just because they are dealing with heavy themes doesn’t mean the Intimadance gang don’t party.
Following the premiere performance on Thursday night, Tmuna will be overrun with DJs and dance-happy audience members.
The after-party will include sets by Umlala, Lorena B and Phototaxis.
Intimadance opens on Thursday, June 30 and runs through July 3. For tickets and more information, visit