In a society that values the arts, Israel’s best dance companies put creative minds to good use through the mode of interpretive modern dance. The dancers act out stories and explore ideas through the art of non-traditional choreography.
Well worth the ticket, dance performances of this kind have become like a new version of the theater, making for an interesting and intellectual night out on the town.
The following nine dance companies represent the Israeli arts on a global scale and put on killer performances year after year. Don’t miss them or you’ll be consumed by FOMO.
Israel’s largest dance company, established in the mid-1960s out of the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv, Batsheva Dance Company has made a name at home and abroad for its unique dance style and laborious schedule of more than 250 international and local performances each year.
Choreographer Ohad Naharin created the signature style of the company — a fluid movement language called GAGA — that has brought the repertory company international acclaim.
Nurturing young dancers and encouraging them to take a role in the creative process of dance, the company’s Young Ensemble helps to build up the next generation of Israeli modern dancers.
Explosive shows like “Venezuela” and “2019” take interpretive contemporary dance theater to a new level.
Started in 1992 by dance power couple Noa Wertheim and Adi Shaal, Vertigo Dance Company operates out of Jerusalem and the Vertigo Eco Art Village on Kibbutz Netiv Halamed in the Elah Valley. There, young dancers and company members connect with nature through their dance studies, and channel a fresh energy into contemporary dance motifs.
Seen as ambassadors of Israeli culture, the multiple award-winning company is dedicated to promoting their social environmentally friendly vision through shows like “Leela” and ”White Noise,” the latter accompanied by Tel Aviv’s Revolution Orchestra.
The acclaimed Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC) includes 18 dancers based at an international dance village in the rural Galilean village of Ga’aton.
Founded in 1970, KCDC is now led by artistic director and choreographer Rami Be’er. He oversees study abroad and summer programs for high school and university students from Israel and abroad, as well as two companies of professional dancers and nearly all the elements of the company’s shows including costumes and lighting.
The clean and decisive choreography accentuated by exceptional lighting and mesmerizing music can be seen in the dance company’s most recent shows like “Horses in the Sky” and “A Good Citizen,” which are stunning spectacles.
Redefining the Israeli dance company, Avshalom Pollak Dance Theatre’s Avshalom Pollak and Inbal Pinto used their platform from the early 1990s to bridge dance with different aspects of the entertainment world, co-producing works with well-known opera houses and musical theater companies around the globe.
Pinto having since left the company, Pollak has continued the legacy of collaboration with artists of various mediums, the education system, and museums and institutions on an international level, with the goal of drawing in more general audiences.
Pieces like “Anto” –a collaboration with Italian choreographer Andrea Martini and interpretation of writer Dorit Rabinyan’s children’s book about a non-conformist cloud — utilizes color, movement, spoken word and music to tell the tale.
“Krump” is a bona-fide theater experience exploring the story of a tyrannical king through elaborate costume, lighting and passionate dance.
One of Israel’s newer established dance companies, Fresco Dance Company burst onto the scene in 2002, taking up residence in South Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station.
Led by creative director and choreographer Yoram Karmi, who started the company, they use their platform to bring attention to controversial topics, such as the boundaries of gender.
Fresco also brings whimsical stories to life with theater and dance in such pieces as “The Fisherman and the Goldfish.”
In her dance company deeply connected to the Arab dance and musical tradition, dance teacher, choreographer and movement therapist Orly Portal explores folklore through belly dance, modern contemporary dance, contact improvisation, and Feldenkrais– a method of mind-body awareness in movement.
Having been awarded with the Israel Minister of Culture and Sport’s Yitzhak Navon prize to promote and preserve the diverse culture of Israel in 2018, Portal’s unique brand of artistic expression is evident in shows like “Rabia,” which bring the viewer into a mesmerizing dream-like world of spiritual movement set to the background of Persian folk music.
The largest mid-sized dance company in Israel, with an incredibly high level of technical training, Kamea Dance Company enjoys a quiet retreat from the noise and distractions of the big city, in southern Beersheva.
The 16 dancers are from Israel and abroad, as well as from the Bat-Dor Beersheva Municipal Dance Center, the largest professional dance school in Israel. Performances are choreographed by artistic director Tamir Ginz and are rooted in tradition, yet simultaneously groundbreaking.
“Matthaus Passion 2727,” for instance, explores mankind’s longing and preparedness for the coming of a messiah in a very modern ballet set to the choral interpretation of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
A senior lecturer and current dean at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Amir Kolben founded the Kolben Dance Company (originally named Kombina Dance Company) in 1996. Touching on both serious and lighthearted subject matter, the company, which is based out of Jerusalem, draws inspiration from the controversial and complex capital city.
Shows like “The Silenced,” which has had a prolonged run, delve deep into the social implications of engendered silence and complacency, while others like “On the Edge” utilize audience participation and spoken word to set the tone for fluid and expressive dance-based storytelling.
Cofounders Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal originally created a dance therapy center called Adama Dance Center in the remote Negev town of Mitzpeh Ramon.
They relocated their dance school to the “Gaza Envelope” town of Sderot in 2006, changing the name to Sderot Adama Dance Center.
A center that teaches everything from improvisational dance to a bachelor’s degree in choreography and movement, Adama presents pieces like “Love is as Strong as Death” that are both strong-willed and raw in their approach.