Opening the festival is Shen Wei, an artist whose creative expression extends beyond the boundaries of a single discipline, whose company – Shen Wei Dance Arts, will perform Re Parts I, II, and III at the festival. Inspired by his travels through Tibet, Angkor Wat and China, it is a dialogue between past and present, image and movement. Although this is the company’s first performance in Israel, Shen Wei conducted a master class for choreographers last August at the Suzanne Dellal Centre as part of the Bridges – Choreographic Dialogues program. A celebrated dancer/choreographer, Shen Wei was born in China where he first performed with the Hunan State Xian Opera Company from 1984 – 1989. In 1991 he became a founding member of the Guandong Modern Dance Company, the first in China. Immigrating to the US in 1995, he founded Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2000.
Merging tradition with contemporary dance is British-Bangladesh dancer choreographer Akram Khan, who will perform his recent solo Gnosis. Created in 2009, it is a classical Kathak (North Indian traditional dance form) dance in which he explores his Indian origins in relation to the modern Western world. The performance is accompanied by live music by internationally acclaimed performers from India, Japan, and England, including the Kudu drummer Yoshi Sunhata. Khan is one of the most esteemed British choreographers. Winner of many prizes, he has created choreography for Kylie Minogue and Juliette Binoche, performing a duet, which was, for the Oscar winning actress, her first performance as a dancer.
The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform Serenade/The Proposition. The work confronts the historic legacy of Abraham Lincoln, using texts from Lincoln’s writings and speeches and those of his contemporaries who shaped America’s culture and history. The performance is a journey through time with video, original music and the company’s characteristic physicality, and explores the connection of the individual to collective human history. Rachel Howard, of the San Francisco Chronicle, said of this artist: “Some choreographers are born dancemakers whose genius manifests in the steps themselves. And some choreographers are geniuses who just happen to choose dance for their primary mode of expression. Bill T. Jones is of the latter variety, and the dance world is fortunate to have him.”
A different rhythm comes from Argentina, with Tangokinesis. Artistic Director Ana Maria Stekelman fuses traditional tango with modern dance. The company is unique also in its selection of dancers, employing women with a classic and modern dance background, and men trained in tango and folklore. Spanish film director Carlos Saura asked Stekelman to choreograph some scenes for the film Tango, for which she was awarded the American Choreography Award in Los Angeles and was nominated for an Academy Award.The company returns to the festival for the second time, and will perform four dances choreographed by Stekelman.
The Israel Festival will pay a special tribute to the Vertigo Dance Company. Founded in 1992, the Jerusalem based company will perform three dances choreographed by Artistic Director and co-founder Noa Wertheim. Wertheim’s choreography is a spiritual journey expressed through the body and movement, exploring the relationship of the individual to God, other people, and to place. The Birth of the Phoenix is performed outdoors, in a geodesic dome, exploring the relationship to the environment through the experience of dance. White Noise expresses the desire for inner peace that is eternally in conflict with the over-stimulation and noise of the modern world, and the “inner buzz” of mind and body. The latest work Mana, is a looks deeply into the spirit through spirals of movement, athletic, exuberant and exceptionally moving.
The Israel Festival will take place from May 25 – June 10.