(BECKET, Mass.) – The venerable Paul Taylor Dance Company and the new and exciting Israeli ensemble Roy Assaf Dance are in residence at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival from Wednesday, July 12, through Sunday, July 16.
Paul Taylor Dance Company is making its first appearance at Jacob’s Pillow in ten years. Its program in the Ted Shawn Theatre will feature a roster of classic works, including Airs, Syzygy, and the exuberant and romantic Esplanade, set to two Johann Sebastian Bach concertos.
Israeli ensemble Roy Assaf Dance makes its U.S. debut with this week’s residency in the Doris Duke Theatre. The program opens with Roy Assaf’s embracing duet Six Years Later, which traces the course of a relationship over six turbulent years. The dance, which includes music by Beethoven and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, was awarded first prize in choreography at the 5th International Choreography Competition in Copenhagen. Assaf’s program closes with his all-male trio dance, The Hill, inspired by veterans’ experiences and based on the Hebrew song “Givat HaTachmoshet.”
Assaf’s Six Years Later is an entrancing duet for a man and a woman. The work, created in 2011, is filled with gesture, subtlety, and fluid movement that keeps the dancers in constant and close proximity. As momentum builds, the hushed intimacy allows the audience into their world and prompts questions about the duo’s relationship. Assaf plays with choreographic virtuosity, inspired by the love affair theme and the score by Beethoven and Pärt.
Assaf created the trio The Hill in 2012; its title is in reference to the song “Ammunition Hill,” written to commemorate a traumatic battle in 1967 in which 36 paratroopers were killed by Jordanian soldiers. The song is written from the perspective of a soldier fighting in the famous battle at Jerusalem’s Givat HaTachmoshet, Ammunition Hill. The Hill won first prize in the 27th International Competition for Choreographers Hanover (Germany) and was awarded first prize of both the jury and audience at [re]connaissance danse contemporaine (France). This strikingly different piece is a highly crafted, sculptural trio full of partnering, play, and the hubris and sacrifice of war. The dance starts with three young men in colorful garb, dancing to military music. The score is joyful and enthusiastic, but as the work climaxes the dancers reach exhaustion.
Although this engagement marks the U.S. debut of his company, Roy Assaf and his work are no strangers to Jacob’s Pillow, having performed there with Emanuel Gat Dance in 2006, dancing Winter Voyage and Rite of Spring. L.A. Dance Project performed Assaf’s II Acts for the Blind at Festival 2015. Artists of the company will teach a master class on Sunday, July 16.
Roy Assaf was born in 1982 in the rural community of Sde Moshe in southern Israel. Though he does not have formal dance training, Assaf has been dancing and creating since childhood. He danced with Emanuel Gat for seven years (2003-2010); working as assistant choreographer from 2006-2010, developing new works and re-staging existing repertoire throughout the world.
In 2005, Assaf created his first work, We Came for the Wings, Stayed Because We Couldn’t Fly, as part of the Shades in Dance competition in Tel Aviv; the work won the Judges Choice and Audience Favorite awards. In 2010, he was appointed Artistic Associate at the Noord Nederlandse Dans company in Groningen, The Netherlands. In 2014, he created II Acts for the Blind for L.A. Dance Project under the direction of Benjamin Millepied, which premiered in the Biennale de Lyon, and Ballader (2015), a collaboration with the Swedish pianist and composer Roland Peter Pöntinen, for the Royal Swedish Ballet. In 2016 Assaf created new works for National Dance Company Wales and for the Batsheva Dance Company.