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Noa Shavit performs the solo work Ingiven.(Photo by: NATASHA SHACHNES)
Jerusalem International Dance Week reaffirms thriving scene
Within a couple of days I managed to see 18 performances in four venues, including some in the archaeology wing of the Israel Museum. Hopefully, the ones I missed will thrive elsewhere.
The Jerusalem International Dance Week was initiated by the Machol Shalem (MASH) dance center under directorship of Ofra Idel and Rubi Edelman. They started the center as a modest dance facility in the Musrara neighborhood, and thrived on a strong ambition and determination to turn MASH into a worthy player on the dance scene here and abroad.

This framework commenced with a handful of foreign visitors, many of whom combined their visit to Jerusalem with a visit to the more established Suzanne Dellal’s “International Exposure,” which follows and has more content and better reputation. The current edition of Jerusalem’s dance event has attracted about 90 dance professionals who came to attend MASH dance events and check out the new local talent.

The program includes an international dance competition, a somewhat chauvinist showcase exclusively for Jerusalemites’ dance artists, as well as “Dance Showcase” for independent Israeli choreographers among others.

Within a couple of days I managed to see 18 performances in four venues, including some in the archaeology wing of the Israel Museum. Hopefully, the ones I missed will thrive elsewhere.

Together, these performances reaffirm the presence of a thriving dance scene, perhaps not diversified enough and too often surprisingly conservative. Yet, one can see improved showmanship, more professional presentations and a lot of creative talent that have the required ingredients to jump further.

Due to financial constraints, including access only to smaller stages, many choreographers produce solos and duets. Among the few dancers who proved that less can be more was Oryan Yohanan, an outstanding performer who presented “I-Dare-You” (2016), an elegant and sophisticated dance art-wise that uses white paper sheets, black paint and a large pair of brushes to mark and redefine her strong entity within a context of perishable props. Semi-nude, she masked her face behind her long hair, not in a coy way, but rather as a means to concentrate on her subterranean struggles, which echoed through her rippling muscles.

“Ingiven” is another solo work, created and performed by Noa Shavit. In a way, she managed the integrate minimalism and a powerful expressionistic presence in a unique fashion, without relying on common theatrical tools. Her total body control and her honest manifestation of dark pains were present in each fragment, with overpowering intensity and contradicting simplicity. It was one of the best pieces at MASH this year.

Maya Yogel aired an older piece that premiered in 2012 with a humorous and entertaining theatrical dance titled “Almost a Mentsch.” Dressed in a shabby gown and unkempt hair, she nearly brought to life the late Kazuo Uno, the iconic first-generation Buto founder she obviously adored. Buto is an inimitable Japanese dance form that is best left to Uno’s compatriots. Fortunately, she moved elsewhere and mixes themes and artistic sources, and paradoxically achieved dramaturgical coherence.

This is but a small sampler of this week repertoire suggestions. With the city’s radiant beauty and its complex socio-political rifts, no wonder this is a coveted visit destination. With so many artistic vibes cooking, I have a feeling that dance will be on many lists of must-see attractions.

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