Higher learning in Tel Aviv

Jerusalem dance students display how well they’ve learned to strut their stuff.

Jerusalem dance students (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem dance students
(photo credit: Courtesy)

How does a person learn to perform in front of an audience?

People with stage fright will be the first to admit that going on stage is a big challenge, one that often requires training and skill in itself. At the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, acquiring performance skills is a key part of the curriculum. On Tuesday, students from the bachelor’s and master’s programs will take the stage at the Suzanne Dellal Center to show off the abilities their higher learning has bestowed upon them. The Faculty of Dance Winter Performance follows an open house, which took place last week in Jerusalem.

As the goal of many of the students is to one day join a company or create their own dances, such performances are crucial opportunities to get comfortable on stage. The evening will consist of a mixed program that encapsulates the Dance Department’s goals. Engineered by Neta Pulvermacher, the new dean of the Dance Faculty, the performance brings together dancers and musicians.

Several months ago, when Pulvermacher relocated to Jerusalem from New York City, one of her goals was to diversify what was being taught at the academy.

She wanted to bring the establishment up to speed with the trends and advancements in the international dance community. Beyond that, she wanted to bring in new teachers and new styles and to open up the ways students approach dance at the university level.

After many years as a professor at the University of Florida, Pulvermacher had developed her own type of program, one that involved a lot of freedom. In the short time since, the academy has begun to fill up with artists, ideas and energy. To the Winter Performance, Pulvermacher brought a piece of her past, entitled 2280 Pints! The Neta Dance Company originally performed the piece in 2011 at the Dance Theater Workshop in New York. In 2280 Pints!, 17 dancers traipse around the stage with white buckets for shoes.

Pulvermacher’s inspiration for the piece came from an installation she saw at the New Museum by Brazilian artist Ravine Neuenschwander called Rains Rains. Dripping buckets suspended above metal buckets created a cacophony that sent Pulvermacher and her 25 university students to Wal-Mart, where they bought out the stock of buckets. The resulting dance piece is lively, playful and energetic.

When choreographer Idan Cohen heard of the new vibe at the academy, he quickly hopped on board. Cohen, an independent, Tel Aviv-based choreographer, is working towards a master’s degree in dance. For this performance, Pulvermacher asked Cohen to recreate a part of his repertoire.

Cohen took a solo he had created with dancer Snir Nakar and turned it into a piece for six. The title, Songs of a Wayfarer, is taken from a piece by composer Gustav Mahler, which is the score for this work. The dance portrays a journey to find one’s home and is rife with imagery from nature.

One of the main focuses of students’ work in any dance department is the connection between music and dance. With musicians just around the corner from the dancers at the academy, partners for collaborations are readily available. Three such duets will be presented as part of the evening, each featuring one dancer and one musician. One such duet is the work of Maya Michal Gelfand entitled Duet Form Run! This semester, the students were busy taking on the complicated movement language of Londonbased choreographer Hofesh Shechter. Originally from Jerusalem, Shechter left Israel more than a decade ago to pursue a dance career with fellow Israeli Jasmin Vardimon. Once in London, Shechter began to create his own works, eventually establishing his own troupe. His piece Uprising, featuring seven male dancers (Shechter included), officially put him on the map as an up-and-coming artist. Today, Shechter is an internationally celebrated artist, known for his dynamic choreography and unique sound design. Excerpts from Uprising will be included in the Winter Performance.

The Faculty of Dance Winter Performance will take place on January 21 at 9 p.m. at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.

For more information, visit www.jamd.ac.il or www.suzannedellal.org.il.