Jacob’s Pillow Showcases Contemporary Israeli Dance

Vertigo Dance Company in 'Mana' (photo Gadi Dagon)

(BECKET, Mass.) – It’s Israeli dance week at Jacob’s Pillow this week, as Israeli contemporary troupe Vertigo Dance Company presents the East Coast premiere of Noa Wertheim’s Mana in the Ted Shawn Theatre and LeeSaar the Company – from Tel Aviv by way of New York City – presents Fame, a fierce series of linked dance pieces, all loosely wrapped around the concept of notoriety and our intrinsic desire to be near it, in the Doris Duke Theatre. Both shows begin Wednesday, July 4, 2012, and run through Sunday, July 8. With inventive set design and an original score by composer Ran Bagno, Vertigo’s Mana explores themes of light and shadow through a movement vocabulary full of fluid athleticism, leaps, and turns, juxtaposing intimate duets with large-scale ensemble sequences.

With roots in the intensely physical style of movement popularized by the Batsheva Dance Company, Vertigo excels in athletic, technically demanding yet conceptually sophisticated choreography. Catherine Thomas of The Oregonian writes that “Wertheim is very much of the modern Israeli dance aesthetic,” noting the ways in which her choreography for Mana evokes “the rich theatricality of Barak Marshall, the ecstatic ritualism of Ohad Naharin, the florid surrealism of Inbal Pinto…[marrying] sharp abstraction to mind-teasing, sophisticated stage design.” The work’s name, Mana, refers to an instrument of light named in the Jewish mystical text, the Zohar.

Composer Ran Bagno’s score incorporates waltzes and marches into klezmer-style music. Bagno is Vertigo Dance Company’s musical director and the composer of numerous film scores, including Edan Zeira’s Lonely Planet, released in 2011. Bagno’s music also accompanies work being performed in the Doris Duke Theatre this week by LeeSaar the Company.

Artistic directors Noa Wertheim and AdiSha’al founded Vertigo Dance Company in Jerusalem in 1992. The company has toured across the globe including to Italy, Poland, Korea, Switzerland, Brazil, Greece, and the United States. The dancers hail from Israel, Argentina, the United States, and Ukraine.

Wertheim and Sha’al met while dancing with the Jerusalem Tamar Dance Company. Sha’al had previously performed with the Batsheva Ensemble and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. The company has received a 2009 Ministry of Culture Dance Award, a 1999 Ministry of Culture Award for Best Ensemble Company, and many accolades (several specifically for Wertheim’s choreography). The name “Vertigo” comes from the first professional work Wertheim and Sha’al ever made together, a duet of the same name.

A scene from 'Fame' by LeeSaar the Company

Since moving to the U.S. in 2004, actress/director Lee Sher and dancer/choreographer Saar Harari have been intriguing audiences and critics with creative theatricality and powerful dancing. Their international ensemble of performers from Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, and the U.S. bring mystery and illusion to the stage with their dance-theatre work Fame. The lines between reality and perception are blurred as truths are told and secrets revealed in this physical, sensual, and wonderfully eccentric production.

In 2004, after residency in Sydney, Australia, and two seasons in Tel Aviv, the company moved to NYC where it is currently based. In 2005, Lee and Saar received American green cards awarded for excellence in the performing arts. Lee and Saar Received the Six Point Fellowship for 2007-2009. They received the Guggenheim fellowship in Choreography for and the New York Foundation for the Art Fellowship in 2008.

The company style is highly influenced by the Gaga technique of the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

Jacob’s Pillow has a rich history of presenting work by companies and choreographers from Israel. Most recently in 2011, Norwegian company Carte Blanche performed two works by Sharon Eyal, who currently serves as the house choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company. In 2010 former Batsheva choreographer Barak Marshall brought a group of dancers from Israel to perform his evening-length dance-theater work MONGER. During the week of Vertigo Dance Company’s engagement, LeeSaar the Company, which is now based in NYC but originated in Tel Aviv, will appear in the Doris Duke Theatre. This is the first time Vertigo Dance Company has appeared at the Pillow.

Related Free Event:

Free PillowTalk: Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance
Saturday, July 7, 4pm

Judith Brin Ingber’s astoundingly comprehensive new book, Seeing Jewish and Israeli Dance, charts the history of Jewish dance in Israel and throughout the world, including a wealth of eminent contributors and rare photos. She discusses her book in this PillowTalk, a topic timed perfectly with performances by Vertigo Dance Company and LeeSaar July 4-8. FREE

Performance and Ticket Information

Ted Shawn Theatre

Wednesday, July 4 through Saturday, July 7 at 8pm
Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8 at 2pm


·         Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before every performance. A Post-Show Talk with Pontus Lidberg and a Pillow Scholar will take place onstage on Friday, June 29.


·         Tickets $39–64. Now on sale online at jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.


·         Box Office hours: Monday and Tuesday,10am-6pm, Wednesday through Saturday 10am–8pm, and Sunday 12pm–5pm.


·         Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theatres are handicapped-accessible.

Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member, call 413.243.9919×125.

Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped accessible.

Jacob’s Pillow, celebrating its 80th Anniversary Festival in 2012, is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America’s longest running international dance festival. The Festival includes more than 50 national and international dance companies and 300 free and ticketed performances, talks, tours, classes, exhibits, and events. The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S., encompasses the diverse disciplines of Ballet, Cultural Traditions, Contemporary, and Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance, as well as an Intern Program in various departments of arts administration and production. The Pillow’s extensive Archives, open year-round to the public, chronicle more than 80 years of dance in photographs, programs, books, costumes, audiotapes, and video. Year-round Community Programs enrich the lives of children and adults through public classes, residencies in area schools, and more than 200 free public events. Through Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion®, a nationally-recognized program, artist-educators work with Berkshire County teachers and students grades K-12, transforming existing curricula such as biology, literature, and history into kinesthetic and creative learning experiences. Creative Development Residencies, in which dance companies are invited to live and work at the Pillow and enjoy unlimited studio time; choreography commissions; and the annual $25,000 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award all support visionary dance artists and choreographers. Virtual Pillow is aimed at expanding global audiences for dance and offers the opportunity to experience dance and Jacob’s Pillow from anywhere in the world via online interactive exhibits, global video networks, and mobile social media. As part of the Virtual Pillow initiative, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, is a curated online video collection of dance highlights from 1936 to today. On March 2, 2011, President Obama honored Jacob’s Pillow with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government. Jacob’s Pillow is the first dance presenting organization to receive this prestigious award.



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