Trends past and future: The Curtain Up Festival presents 11 new works

This year, the Ministry of Culture and Sport put the festival in the hands of two new artistic directors, Mate Moray and Itzik Galili.

The Curtain Up Festival presents 11 new works (photo credit: EYAL LANDSMAN)
The Curtain Up Festival presents 11 new works
(photo credit: EYAL LANDSMAN)
Ringing in right at the tail end of the year, the annual Curtain Up Festival always presents audiences with a wrap-up of the previous year of trends in the local dance community, as well as promises for the coming year. The most prestigious and sought-after platform for independent Israeli choreographers, Curtain Up has been the barometer for nearly three decades for what is in and now in contemporary dance. Although the artistic directors have changed numerous times in the life of the festival, and dance trends have run the gamut favoring pure movement, then text, then performance art, and back to movement time and again, the spirit of the festival remains fresh, cutting-edge and experimental.
The same is true for this year’s program, which began its journey throughout Israel last week with premieres in Dimona. Next week, Curtain Up and its 11 new works will return home to Tel Aviv, where flocks of dance lovers will fill the Suzanne Dellal Center to see what type of performances will usher 2017 out and 2018 in.
This year, the Ministry of Culture and Sport put the festival in the hands of two new artistic directors, Mate Moray and Itzik Galili. Starkly different in sensibility and taste from their predecessors Itzik Giuli and Hillel Kogan, the new directors set out to open the doors to artists who had perhaps not found their footing with the last leaders. (It should be noted that the changing of the guard once again leaves women out of the fold of Curtain Up leadership, a fact felt deeply by many choreographers). Months ago, Moray and Galili held auditions, seeing dozens of pitches for new works by local artists. Their selection was tailored into three evenings, or Curtains.
Curtain One consists of new works by Maya Michlal Gelfand, Oryan Yohanan and duo Yaniv Abraham and Guy Shomroni.
Michlal Gelfand’s POV is a quartet for two men and two women. She inspired by the rat race she experiences in her daily life, the endless need to achieve and to push forward, sometimes at the expense of what is dear or important. Yohanan, who many will recognize from the TV competition Just Want to Dance, will present a solo titled Shoot Me. In this work, Yohanan reflects on her time in the limelight, focusing on the scrutiny she experienced at the hands of the competition’s judges and the media. Abraham and Shomroni, who have danced together since their days in the Batsheva Ensemble more than a decade ago, will present Second Home, a quartet.
Curtain Two is a longer program, featuring works by Igor Manishkov, Mira Rubinstein and Ishai Karasenti, Artour Astman and Ilana Bellahsen and Osnat Kelner.
Manishkov’s Dust to Dust is a contemporary ballet piece featuring six dancers. Whereas in previous years, ballet was not shown at all in Curtain Up, Manishkov’s entry into the scene brings with it the clean lines and technique of the classical dance world. Mira Rubinstein and Ishai Karasenti’s duet Dance As Much As You Can is a comical commentary on culture in today’s society.
Artour Astman and Ilana Bellahsen’s UNIT is a stark, conceptual duet that weaves together movement with video. Osnat Kelner’s quartet Expecting looks at the mental and physical state of anticipation.
Curtain Three also includes four works, this time by Amit Yardeni, Kazuyo Shionoiri and Dror Liberman, Noa Shadur and Martin Harriague.
Yardeni’s trio ObNob was inspired by the ball scene from Swan Lake. Yardeni looks at a party in which three people are trapped, none of whom is happy to be present. Shionoiri and Liberman’s duet Happy and Lucky is a blunt and courageous combination of reality and fantasy, sacred and crude, man and woman. In Shadur’s Ornament Crime Love Song, the veteran choreographer continues to refine her sharp and precise movement language. The work is musical, rhythmic, austere and cutting. Finally, Harriague’s If You Were God is a duet between Harriague and dancer Shani Cohen. The piece tracks the six days of Creation through movement, at times harmonious, at times sensual and at times disjointed.
The Curtain Up Festival will take place on November 16 to 18 and 23 to 25 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit