I had the pleasure of taking part in the Masa Culture evening at ZOA last week, where I saw a performance by The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. The hour long performance was spellbinding – highly talented dancers mixed with compelling choreography, vibrant costumes and music. The high energy piece confirmed why this company is one of the top contemporary dance groups, touring throughout the world.
The event also included a talkback with the artistic director and a number of his dancers (who hail from all over the world including Russia, Netherlands, and Japan) who provided background about the company, spoke about their unique kibbutz dance village in the north of the country, and talked about why so many talented dancers choose to come to Israel to dance with the company. It was great to see such a riveting performance and gain more of an understanding about the vibrant arts and culture scene in Israel.
I really enjoyed the joint performance by the novelist Eshkol Nevo and the musician Shlomi Shaban. This event showed me a part of Israeli culture I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see. Both artists began by establishing the event as a conversation, not just a performance. They continued with a dialogue between the two of them in order to connect the two forms of art, as well as explain their connection to Israeli culture to the audience.
For example, they discussed topics such as the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, army life, and the stark differences between the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Nevo read passages from his book, Homesick, and explained the context as well as the significance of the events in Israel. Shaban played piano and sang songs all in Hebrew except for one, but most of them were light and cheerful. One song (a cover) was about all the thoughts running through a man’s head on his walk across the bar to a woman he wants to apprach. The performers were very joyous and elated to share their work with international students. They made a point of telling the students “kol hakavod” and thanking us for taking time out of our lives to be in Israel.
My friends and I introduced ourselves and told the artists how much we enjoyed their performances, and they were very kind and took the time to get to know us in the brief conversation we had. The event was entertaining but also a good representation of different forms of art in Israel and the way Israeli topics are manifested in forms of expression.