NADAV ZELNER’S ‘Bedtime Story’. (photo credit: Rahl Rezvani/NDT2)
NADAV ZELNER’S ‘Bedtime Story’.
(photo credit: Rahl Rezvani/NDT2)

The NDT2 dance troupe returns to Israel


Every year, choreographer Nadav Zelner makes sure to block off at least one month on his calendar in which he does not travel. Though he hails from Ramla, Zelner spends the lion’s share of each year jumping from project to project, city to city, country to country and sometimes continent to continent. 

“I don’t live anywhere,” said the 30-year-old artist in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. At the time, Zelner was in Zurich, one of the cities he frequents on his travels. “Usually, when I go for a project, I stay for a month to two months. My visits to Israel are pretty short. I can visit for two weeks to a month, but that’s the longest. 

“I’m always in motion. I try to find one month that I can rest to recharge and refresh my mind for the next productions. I don’t have a home.”

Next month, both Zelner and the fruit of one of his projects abroad will make their way to Israel. The creation is a part of Nederlands Dance Theater 2’s visit to the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. Bedtime Story, Zelner’s creation, will be joined by two others in an evening designed to showcase the troupe’s versatility and character to local audiences. 

“Bedtime Story is a piece that has been presented for the past two seasons,” noted Zelner. “It’s a piece I made for almost all of the dancers of NDT2, 10 or 12 dancers. All of the music that I chose was Middle Eastern, Syrian, Arabic, Tunisian. Those are my roots; I’m half Tunisian on my mom’s side. 

TEN DUETS on the theme of rescue. (credit: Rahl Rezvani/NDT2)
TEN DUETS on the theme of rescue. (credit: Rahl Rezvani/NDT2)

“I wanted to keep things very simple, black and white. I went into the concept of dreams. I remember my dreams. I like to think about them and interpret them. I suddenly understood that the moment between sleep and being awake – that is the moment in which you can fulfill your dreams.”

A focus on movement and musicality

Zelner is a choreographer with an eye for design. For most of his works, he employs a team of artists to create the visual elements. However, for Bedtime Story, he decided to focus on movement and musicality. “The piece is made with a black box and black pajamas,” he said. 

This will be the first time that Zelner’s work will be presented in his home country, aside from a creation made for the Batsheva Ensemble that was meant to premiere during the first days of the first COVID lockdown.

Zelner is exactly the kind of artist that NDT2 artistic director Emily Molnar searches for. Molnar, who is at the helm of both the main company and the younger company, puts the development of young artists at the core of NDT2’s mission. 

“NDT2 is really about featuring an emerging artist, about isolating that age group. The priority is about the development and learning, for the dancers and also the young choreographer. It’s that exchange,” said Molnar. “With NDT2, we can really launch an artist’s career."

“To us, Nadav is an emerging choreographer. He is such an eclectic, unique voice. He’s so musical. It was a huge pleasure for the dancers to work with him. He has so much passion in the studio. The work is so rich,” said Molnar. 

Zelner is the youngest of the three choreographers in this program. The other two works are Cluster by Slovenian choreographer Edward Clug, and 10 duets on the theme of rescue by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite. 

“I always try to keep in mind the journey the audience will go through and the dancers, their process,” Molnar said. “This is a mixed bill that shows diversity and range. Stylistically and emotionally, it represents us as a company and shows what we do.”

NDT2 will perform at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center July 5-10. For more information, visit NDT2 performances in Israel were made possible thanks to the support of MART Foundation and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Israel.

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