The city of Jerusalem has had a hard time lately. What with the current political climate, tourism is taking a hit and daily life feels more tense than usual. And yet, in spite of the situation, the Machol Shalem Dance Host has managed to lure dozens of international guests to the country’s capital for Jerusalem International Dance Week.“We have discovered that people are very open and willing to experience Jerusalem in new ways. We have filled the program to the brim this year with local tours, master classes and performances. It will, for sure, be an adventurous week for all those who participate.Our guests this year, who will take part in the third international choreography competition, are independent artists from Poland, Germany, Taiwan, UK and France. We will also host 40 managers of festivals and dance centers around the world,” explained Ofra Idel in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. Founders and co-directors of MSDH, Idel and her partner Ruby Edelman have worked tirelessly for the past several years to turn Jerusalem into a dance hub equal to Tel Aviv. International Dance Week is an answer to the Suzanne Dellal Center’s International Exposure Festival, which will take at roughly the same time.“Jerusalem International Dance Week is a meeting point between up-and-coming artists, experienced creators and international artistic directors. In order to develop a meaningful dialogue between them and achieve multiple goals, we thought it would be best to expose a variety of professional and educational programs, and present premiers alongside existing works. This variety enriches experience of the Jerusalem audience, the artists, as well as the presenters who wish to be part of a broad dialogue.”In addition to running the show behind the scenes, Idel will return to the stage during Jerusalem International Dance Week. For the past several years Idel has performed on and off, most often in her own works. A mother of two, Idel tends to choose her projects very carefully.“This year we cooperated with the Zawirowania Theater from Poland. I have the pleasure of dancing in a new piece by the company, which was directed by Ido Tadmor. Working with this group of dancers has been a true honor for me.”The program includes the choreography competition as well as premiers of new works commissioned by MSDH. Veteran choreographers Sharon Zuckerman and Iris Erez mentored the artists chosen to create these works. “It is a great privilege to work with them.They have an innovative vision in my opinion and are very loyal to content and concept of the works. The works they chose are of young artists, for some of them this is their first or second piece and they are not less interesting than all the rest of the performances at the dance week,” said Idel.The hope is that the out-of-towners will get to know a few new artists while enjoying the city.“We would like to promote Jerusalem as a center for groundbreaking contemporary dance, a place that brings together artists from all over the world. In the past two years there were a number of interesting dialogues between artists and presenters who came to compete in the choreography competition and received additional invitations for competitions in other countries.“We are beginning to establish a foundation that functions as a springboard to the next station. The seeds to this huge goal are currently being planted. Creating a successful festival brings awareness and this serves us in our monthly and weekly and daily activities.We are great believers in the everyday work, the endless hours in the studio and the ongoing performances. Hopefully bringing audiences and active partners to the dance week will help MSDH achieve those goals.”Jerusalem International Dance Week runs through till December 3. For more information, visit www.macholshalem.org.il.