Artistic Dance in Israel

Turning away from tradition and establishing its own roots.

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The creative upsurge following Bausch's visit to Israel was immediate. The following year, Nava Zuckerman founded Tmu-Na Theater, and Oshra Elkayam-Ronen founded the Oshra Elkayam Movement Theater. Like Bausch, they were concerned with gender issues, social norms, and the lack of communication between people.

Into the Present

Beginning in the late 1980s, a large group of experienced Israeli creators and dancers joined both established companies and marginal fringe frameworks. The most prominent independent choreographers were the couple Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror who proved that it was possible to dance as a couple in modest simplistic productions, but with an original contemporary message. Similarly, the dancers and choreographers Adi Shaal and Noa Wertheim performed as a duo and then created the Vertigo Dance Company in 1992. The company, characterized by its high technical level, dealt with ecological and social issues, among others.

In the last decade the most notable choreographers and companies are Ohad Naharin of the Batsheva Dance Company, Rami Be'er of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Yasmeen Godder, Emanuel Gat, and the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Polak Dance Company, specializing in portraying the world of fantasy.

Virus by Ohad Naharin
Batsheva Dance Company  

Major dance festivals, such as the annual Karmiel Dance Festival in the Galilee, also attract large audiences. At this Festival, hall performances as well as mass dances in public parks and in the streets combine folk, ethnic, and artistic dance.

Today, the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv--founded in 1990, under the artistic direction of Yair Vardi--is the primary home to Israeli artistic dance. For the first time, dance has a venue that provides a forum for achievement, and also encourages new projects and gives them exposure to national and international media.  

Dance in Israel today is part of the global trend of contemporary dance, in an era that demands advanced technical ability from dancers. It is multicultural, multidisciplinary, and theatrical, dealing with subjects that relate to the reality of Israeli life.

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Ruth Eshel

Ruth Eshel is the author of Dancing with the Dream: The Development of Artistic Dance in Israel 1920-1964. She is a dance critic for the Hebrew daily Ha`aretz and the artistic director of Beta Dance Troupe which draws inspiration from the culture of Ethiopian Jewry.