Reflections on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, by Andrea Snyder

26 Dec

I can’t believe I waited this long in my life to experience Israel! What an amazing and thrilling trip to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A week is clearly not enough time.

Atanas Marc, Mary-Louise Albert and me outside the Old City

Andrea Snyder, Atanas Maev and Mary-Louise Albert outside the Old City

I was invited to attend the Jerusalem International Dance Week presented by MASH (Machol Shalom Dance House) from December 2-6, 2017, which lines up conveniently in advance of International Exposure at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv. The convening in Jerusalem is a fairly intimate gathering (approximately 60 international presenters and guests, only three of which hailed from the U.S.) focused on independent dance artists. Exposure is in its 23rd year of showcasing a range of Israeli companies and artists, some with international recognition, for several hundred international presenters and guests (including a larger group of Americans).

First, a few impressions about the cities themselves. Jerusalem is magical for its centuries-old history, the dynamics of four cultures (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Armenian) functioning in close quarters within the Old City, the light, sounds, smells, food, marketplace… every sight and moment is thrilling. Tel Aviv has a different feel, for sure, but still interesting. The city is more laid back than Jerusalem, and the beach/sea dominate the environment and focus. I was only there for a very short time, and spent 99% gravitating to the Dellal Centre, so my appreciation of the city was limited.

A participatory performance in the David Tower Museum

Participatory performance in the Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem

Although I saw more dance work in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv, overall the choreography reflected the general environment and current climate – themes generated around aggression, relationship struggles, and gender politics. One or two works focused on healing, sharing, and trust. The dancing was rich with passion, intensity, honesty, humor, and great skill. Both festivals were lively with interaction, hospitality, and friendliness.

My purposes in attending both festivals were several-fold. First, I was able to inform international colleagues about American Dance Abroad’s upcoming projects, SPOTLIGHT: USA and American Dance Recon, both of which were met with great enthusiasm.

Presenting info to colleagues in Jerusalem

Andrea Snyder presenting information about SPOTLIGHT to colleagues in Jerusalem

Second, I had the chance to talk with MASH’s leadership about future efforts for international residency exchanges, a focus that American Dance Abroad has on its radar.

Third, it was a terrific opportunity to meet new international colleagues and introduce them to American Dance Abroad’s efforts on behalf of U.S. dance artists and companies, as well as to learn about and be inspired by their own initiatives. There were ample opportunities for striking up conversations – at the sumptuous hotel breakfasts, on buses to the various venues in Jerusalem, at receptions, or sitting next to someone new in a theatre, to name a few.

It was a great, intense, valuable and positive trip!

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