Cultural Connections

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Photo: Uri Nevo
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Photo: Uri Nevo

For the first time, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company brings its stunning technique and savvy choreography to Dallas, part of the TITAS 2013-14 season.

Dallas — TITAS’ exhilarating 2013-14 season continues with one of Israel’s most prominent dance groups,Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC). Led by Artistic Director Rami Be’er, KCDC will be bringing its raw energy and cultural themes to the Dallas City Performance for two performances on March 1, at 2 and 8 p.m.

The Israeli dance scene has been growing over the past couple of decades thanks to companies like Batsheva Dance Company, Inbal Dance Theater, Bat-Dor Dance Company and Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. While Be’er says dance isn’t necessarily the first option for art enthusiasts compared to music and theater, it is certainly developing.

KCDC International Director Yoni Avital largely attributes this growth to the fact Israel is situated at the crossroads of three major continents. “Thousands of years ago the region was the crossroads and home to the ancient Spice Trade Route, connecting the Roman empire and Africa with East Asia. Today, artists here in Israel also connect these regions via their own trade be it music or dance,” Avital says. “I believe here in Israel you find more fusion and artistic innovation more so than with any other country in the world.” In addition to his role as International Director, Avital is also a professional musician and performs regularly around the world with his group The Shuk. A native New Yorker, Avital moved to Israel with his dancer wife, Dorry Aben, who danced with KCDC from 2009 to 2012.

KCDC was founded by the late Yehudit Arnon in 1970. Born in Komárno, Czechoslovakia, Arnon was a Holocaust survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. After the war she traveled to Budapest before settling in Kibbutz Ga’aton, Israel in 1948. “The story of Yehudit Arnon is quite exceptional and moving,” Avital says. “For one woman to survive such atrocities and then see one of her young students develop into one of the leading choreographers and become artistic director of one of Israel’s premiere contemporary dance companies is really quite extraordinary.”

“She had an enormous passion for dance and she had such a unique ability to positively influence those around her,” Be’er says. “I think that passion for dance, creativity and creation are the things that Yehudit found in me early on in my own career as a dancer and artist.”

Growing up in Kibbutz Ga’aton, Be’er began taking dance classes with Arnon at the age of three. He studied a variety of styles including Graham, Cunningham, jazz, contact improvisation and dance theatre. He joined KCDC as a dancer in 1981 and was asked by Arnon to take over as artistic director in 1996. “This has been a natural process for me to develop this unique project of Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and our International Village here in Kibbutz Ga’aton,” he says.

Photo: Uri Nevo
Photo: Uri Nevo

Arnon created the International Dance Village as part of her mission to bring dance and the local community together. Today, the Dance Village is home to the KCDC main company, second company, 5-and 10-month International Dance Journey program and other year-round programs. “It’s a true dance village and dance community in every sense of the word,” Avital says.

“KCDC’s Dance Village is quite an impressive place to visit for both dance enthusiasts and those who haven’t seen contemporary dance,” Be’er adds. “We currently have nine dance studios, dormitories and a professional 150-seat theater. We are looking to build a new structure in the future that will include more studios and accommodations for international tourists.”

“I love that they live and work in Kibbutz,” says Charles Santos, Executive Director of TITAS. “It’s a part of their lifestyle and not just a name which I think is great.” Santos came across KCDC on a trip to Israel in December 2012 and was immediately drawn to Be’er’s choreography. “I really liked Rami’s vision, the company’s performance quality and the fact they use their technique instead of just showing us tricks.”

Avital had a similar reaction the first time he saw KCDC perform. “From the first time I sat in KCDC’s Zichri Theatre in the International Dance Village and viewed Rami Be’er’s masterpiece Aide Memoire I was simply blown away. I quickly learned that Rami is a complete artist who not only choreographs, but also works on the set design, music, lighting and essentially every aspect of the polished and finished product.”

Santos adds, “They are really right at the top of the TITAS mission statement. They are international, high quality, somewhat boundary pushing and I think people are really going to like them.”

Dallas audiences will get their chance to experience KCDC for themselves when they come to the Dallas City Performance Hall on March 1, 2014. The company will be performing If At All, a 65-min piece created by Be’er in 2012. “The general theme of this work relates to our human existence in our own relationships; the relationships between the individual to the community; the individual to society, individuals in a two-person relationship and the individual with him or herself.”

In addition to the performance KCDC will also be holding auditions for its Dance Journey program at Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. “We are looking for talented dancers who have a passion to dance and want to see themselves as professional dancers,” Avital says. “We also want dancers who are creative and are looking for new experiences.” Dancers can register and reserve an audition spot at www.kcdc.co.il/en/auditionregistration

This feature was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

 

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