Curtain Up: Independent choreographers receive generous opportunity

Curtain Up allows a group of independent choreographers to receive generous government support, enabling them to create new works.

 IMOGENE HOZELL in Ofir Yudilevitch’s ‘Hands Up.’  (photo credit: YAIR MEYUHAS)
IMOGENE HOZELL in Ofir Yudilevitch’s ‘Hands Up.’
(photo credit: YAIR MEYUHAS)

Founded 33 years ago, the yearly Curtain Up framework allows a group of independent choreographers to receive generous government support, enabling them to create new works – a rare opportunity in their under-supported artistic realm.

The first two out of four programs already contain an impressive range of the current dance and dance-performance varieties, with some exceptional showmanship and original concepts.

Choreographer Avidan Ben Giat presented his work, “How Are You, Dolores,” an intimate and quite lyrical scene, like a watercolor in motion. Here, a girl – Gili Geva – rows a boat and lands at center stage on an iceberg (an approximately 1.5m. by 2m. block of man-made foam). She seems happy, warm and ready to exercise.

Ofir Yudilevitch saw acrobat Imogene Hozell on the Internet and invited her to come and join his “Hands Up” project. It looks easy, as she stands on her hands to exercise. But it’s not, unless you have muscles like hers. She is very capable, moves well, and her stunts are truly acrobatic. The hope of adding more video and creative technology to produce artistic layers didn’t quite come to fruition. 

What are the other performances?

 CURTAIN 2 and 4 feature works by Talia Beck and Ofir Yudilevich.  (credit: YAIR MEYUHAS) CURTAIN 2 and 4 feature works by Talia Beck and Ofir Yudilevich. (credit: YAIR MEYUHAS)

In between those works we were delighted to see “Meta-Tami,” which turned out to be a mesmerizing solo by Tammy Izhaki, a dancer, teacher, artistic manager and mother of three. She describes her work in the program as, “Live shows of small life-shows that are a larger-than-life composite of my daily life.” In a minute, she established herself as an original artist, with a sharp mind and knife.

This trained dancer concurrently recites texts about life, wisdom from the scriptures, and high-brow academic jargon along with anecdotes. All the while, she tries to analyze the transition from modern to postmodern dance, followed by exposing the writing on her thigh that states “Tammy – an ex-dancer.” She is more than that.

She proves to be a captivating performer, saluting the greatest – Serbia’s Marina Abramovic, whom she named grandmother of performance art – while she took out her knife and peeled an apple. From there, she plays a hair-raising game with it, sticking the knife into the floor between her fingers in accelerating speed, and then all around her body, as she keeps lecturing.

Toward the end, she tried to reconstruct Abramovic’s most canonic performance – Rythumo O (1974) with plastic toys. Izhaki blossomed to be an A-list performer, competing for the title with dancer-choreographer Hillel Kogan.

Kogan had a full-length performance at Curtain Up 1, called “Thisispain,” a duet with flamenco dancer Mijal Nathan. He has rich experience dancing with established companies here and abroad, but he has also choreographed a line of independent creations, mostly solos and duets, with sharp provocative bites of political and social nature.

In that most unexpected match of Kogan and Nathan, he enjoys confrontations and challenges, while she is the refined lady. It worked better than expected, since we saw new facets of both artists. The most surprising thing was hearing Kogan sing flamenco songs in Spanish, and quite well too.

Between some short flamenco vignettes, we could appreciate the provocations, pointing mostly about Spanish issues, as he dissed and teased, reminding Spaniards of their internal wars and past fascist regime, and joking about the Catalans.

His texts always had layers of sharp wit, clever observations, sensitivities, touches of sarcasm, and a way of looking and understanding the big picture – so needed for balance in such a duet. Amid his dry humor and respectful partnering, he clearly enjoyed wearing frilled flamenco dresses and parading around in them. No wonder the audience cheered and shouted for a long, well-deserved ovation.