Hot Dance promises a hot summer

The Hot Dance festival at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Jaffa features no less than 84 productions and 19 premieres in two months.

Nuevo Ballet Español 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nuevo Ballet Español 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This is the big one for the Israeli dance community – professionals and fans alike. This year’s Hot Dance festival kicks off today at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Jaffa, with all guns blazing.  Everywhere you look in the Hot Dance program there is something patently designed to excite the mind, draw the eye and arouse the emotions, with no less than 84 productions and 19 premieres over the two months of the summer dance season.
The two-month-long dance showcase opens with a full week and a half of productions from top Spanish and Madrid-based dancers with a polychromic high-energy fiesta of flamenco and contemporary dance, incorporating four different shows spread over the first 10 days of the season.
And there is plenty of top-notch homespun talent on show, too.
The Madrid Dance extravaganza, a collaborative effort by the Suzanne Dellal Center and the Municipality of Madrid, features some of Spain’s top performers, including celebrated dancer-choreographer Antonio Najarro’s Jazzing Flamenco.
During the course of his career to date, the 35-year-old Najarro has gained a reputation for producing the unexpected, often fusing genres to produce thought-provoking and highly esthetic stylistic hybrids.
Jazzing Flamenco features 11 dancers and blends a range of musical genres – jazz, blues, soul and flamenco – marrying tradition with modernity, and the sensual charms of flamenco with the elegance of jazz. Jazzing Flamenco is the latest genre-twinning work by Najarro and follows his earlier Tango Flamenco and FlamencOriental shows.
Interestingly, Najarro has also won praise for his choreographer contributions to the Olympic Games and the World Figure Skating Championships.
Other Madrid Dance slots will be filled by the Nuevo Ballet Español company, whose Cambio de Tercio show combines traditional dance and contemporary pop influences, under the artistic direction of choreographers Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez. Israeli-born Madrid-based dancer Sharon Friedman will team up with Jesus Pastor in an evening of original works, with Pastor reappearing later in the program alongside José Marino.
The climax of the Iberian contribution to Hot Dance is Spanish Celebration, which features all the Madrid Dance performers together on stage, including celebrated dancer Aida Gomez and Ladino singer Yasmin Levy.
Elsewhere on the festival’s “import” front there is a welcome return for the Black Theater of Prague, with its Africania production, which will take place at the Suzanne Dellal Auditorium on August 8. The company’s principal artistic means of expression feeds off the dynamic relationship between human energy and various physical objects, incorporating a unique blend of movement, color, sound and dance.
The last non-Israeli slot is filled by the Opera Dancers of Paris, and their 7-part Incidence Choreographique show.
But Hot Dance offers far more than just a glimpse of what some of the top dance companies from abroad are up to. It is an opportunity to get a good idea of what our own highly talented dancers have to offer, including some of the works of the past year that may have slipped by your list of entertainment “must-dos,” as well as a whole host of first-timers.
The former include the Batsheva Ensemble with director Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Zina 2010, Shlomit Fudaminsky, Iris Erez, Yoram Karmi’s Particle Accelerator, Shlomi Frige’s DIXI, and the Vertigo Dance Company with White Noise, Mana and Birth of the Phoenix.
The latter show (August 2) is an eye-catching production that features dancers in a giant geodesic dome that aims to draw the spectator into a heady fusion of the material and the spiritual as visual and audible elements appear and disappear at high speed.
White Noise (August 3) is also something of an attack on our normally acceptable sensory perception. The show looks at some of the stress-generating aspects of modern-day life, highlighting the sounds to which we are exposed on a daily basis, and the inner noise with which we continually live.
Dance fans looking for something that may raise a smile – albeit of a somewhat dark nature – may enjoy Michal Herman’s August 7 performance of Hahavura, based on a short story by Franz Kafka. The Batsheva Ensemble and Ohad Naharin certainly need no introduction, but Kyr/Zina 2010 offers something more: a retrospective look at some of Naharin’s earlier works.
The new production gets no less than four airings at Hot Dance (July 14-17) and draws on Naharin’s debut offering for the company – Kyr from 1990 – and his 1995 work Zina, and is performed by 16 dancers in the enthused, insouciant manner of young dancers just starting out along their professional road.
The Rushes + show (July 27-29) should also appeal to dance lovers who like their entertainment on the decidedly physical side, liberally seasoned with comedic elements. The first part of the show was created by Inbal Pinto, Avshalom Pollak and Robby Barnett, the latter from the award-winning Pilobolus dance company from the States.
Rushes + is rather bewilderingly described as “Jacques Tati meets Gogol and the Marx Brothers” and includes dancing chairs, ice-skating and tales of broken dreams portrayed through a blend of humor and nostalgia within a human circus milieu.
Considering Pilobolus’s penchant for demonstrating extreme forms of physicality, often verging on gymnastics, one may expect the visual entertainment value of Rushes + to be highly captivating.
Besides top-quality and inventive dance programs, the festival lineup covers a diverse range of styles, from contemporary dance to Middle Eastern, flamenco and interdisciplinary works, with an abundance of energy expended over the next two months.
Artistic director Yair Vardi feels the latter – and more – is a strong added-value factor of what our dance sector has to offer the world.
“You immediately know when you are watching an Israeli dance company,” he says. “There is something in the color and energy and enthusiasm which is uniquely Israeli. Our dancers express everything they are and what they experience here, and that also feeds off the Israeli social fabric and dynamism.”
We are up there with the best, Vardi adds. “The quality of Israeli dancers and dance companies is very high.”
He feels, however, that it is more a matter of striving for, and maintaining, artistic excellence rather than creating innovative channels of expression.
“I don’t think there are any new trends emerging in Israeli dance – although, naturally, each work adds something new.”
Equally naturally, Israel has always been a cultural and artisticmelting-pot, drawing on eclectic sources while embracing elements fromcloser to home. In recent years, flamenco has been a prominent featureof local dance endeavor, and that is reflected in Hot Dance in, forexample, Tania Vinokur and Flamenco Fusion Theater’sCuadros show on July 29 and a delightful familyshow, courtesy of the Israeli Flamenco Dance Company’s version ofSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs (August 2).
On the local traditional front, Elina Pechersky’s UmShiraz show (August 12) offers some home fare in the form ofa traditional Middle Eastern celebration of dance and music, with afull classical Arabic music ensemble in support. Meanwhile, fromfurther east, Yael Tal and Mayala’s Colors of India(July 26) draws on dance styles from the north and south of thesubcontinent.
The Israeli premieres at Hot Dance include Rina Shenfeld DanceTheater’s Hasusah (The Mare) (August 20 and 21),which draws on memories of childhood; Ana (July 16and 17), an intriguing interdisciplinary synergy between dancer TamarBorer and director Tamara Erde based on a multifaceted dialogue betweenthe worlds of the cinema and the stage; and Ego-Bass(July 30) by the Da-Na-Ka Dance group, a multimedia piece about thesearch for inner equilibrium in the midst of the vortex of the outsideworld.
For more information about the Hot Dance (Macholohet) dance festival: