Dance: A Meeting of the minds

Female artists take a stand about their position in the dance realm.

‘2HER’ (photo credit: TAMAR LAM)
(photo credit: TAMAR LAM)
Over the last few weeks, a new movement has taken shape in the Israeli dance community. A group of female choreographers and dancers got together to discuss the inherent and widely practiced sexism of the field. Citing local festivals and artistic directors, the veteran artists beseeched male and female dancers to take stock of their opportunities and to question if gender was a factor in their allotment. Many attendees at a meeting this month vehemently contended that being a women has negatively impacted the number of jobs they have been offered, their salaries and the treatment they have received in the field. Shocking, considering that the dance realm has an overwhelming majority of female artists.
Festival after festival, project after project, the dance world reinforces that men are leaders as women are kept in tow.
To provide a much-needed counterpoint to this male dominance, dancer and choreographer Ayala Frenkel will host Meeting, two days of female artists and creations at the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam. Frenkel began dance training as a teenager, studying various ballroom styles. After completing high school, she became interested in other techniques and attended Hasadna (professional training program) in Haifa. She went on to participate in Ohad Naharin’s Kamuyot in Sweden.
Upon returning to Israel, Frenkel established herself as a freelance dancer, working with choreographers such as Tammy and Ronen Itzhaki, Tamar Borer, Iris Erez and Dana Ruttenberg.
In 2015 she created the solo dance piece Gazelle as part of the Arena Dance Festival in Jerusalem. In this work, Frenkel struck back to her days on heels, being led around the dance floor by a suit-clad gentleman and to the objectification of the female form. She performed Gazelle at festivals in Israel and abroad. Last year, she premiered 2Her, a duet with the formidable Noa Shavit. She currently performs in Common Emotions and Simple Actions by Yasmeen Godder.
In all her performing, touring and creating, Frenkel keeps an eye trained on women’s rights. An innate feminist, Frenkel has many thoughts and theories about how women can further themselves in the dance world, how they can be seen as equals and perhaps more than equals. The idea to devote two days to female artists was a natural continuation of the work and approach she already practices, and Kelim, a women-run establishment, was a perfect fit. The hope is to establish this event as the first edition of an ongoing Meeting series.
Over the course of the weekend, artists such as Merav Dagan, Stav Marin and Anat Danieli will present work. Dagan and Marin will perform Come Closer, which premiered last year as part of the Curtain Up Festival. Anat Danieli, founder and director of Kelim, will present her duet with dancer Omer Uziel Ana Vagana. And Frenkel will perform 2Her with Noa Shavit.
In addition, Frenkel will host two panel discussions following the performances. The first will bring author Tamar Mor Sela, the voice behind the best-seller Awake to Kelim.
Mor Sela will be joined by photographer Reuma Zoher Chayot, whose images (many of which are of Frenkel) enhance the reader experience. In between events, dancer, choreographer and vegan chef Stav Struz will offer sweet and savory treats in her booth. On the second evening, Jerusalem-based musician Faye Shapiro will perform.
Meeting will take place on April 27 and 29 at Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam. For more information, visit