With 'Hikarizatto,' Israel Ballet Is on Point

The stunning work of choreographer Itzik Galili reminds us of the company's glorious past and has us once again optimistic for the future.

Ruth Eshel
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Ruth Eshel

One year after Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili's work "Hikarizatto" had its local premiere in Rishon Lezion, the athletic, emotive work is back at the Israel Ballet.

During the first several minutes of this performance, dancers seemed a bit hesitant to take the leap into the turbulent, whirlpool-filled waters. The men, particularly, seemed to hesitate, holding back rather than hurtling with full abandon across the stage.

After a few moments, though, the dancers hit their stride, moving as though they were fighting for their lives or competing in the Olympics. In a practically hypnotic ebb and flow of exertion and ease, they propelled themselves, and then relaxed, walking across the stage as if strolling through their own private homes. Then they recalibrated and converged yet again, gathering and concentrating their energy for the next hurdle.

There is something fascinating, something that makes an audience exhale with the athletes on stage, as they gather strength for a peak effort and then wildly let it go.

Galili is a master in stretching the language of ballet, in warping the body into creative solutions. He also makes fascinating use of the stage. He breaks through the boundaries of the box, shifting the platform into a dark surface without bounds. With lighting, he sculpts and writes, creating islands of energy lined by pockets of secret space.

At times, geometric cubes are lit for a solo or a duet. The puddle of light is liquid, without defined edges. Dozens of dancers crowd in amongst the glow like a flock of birds reporting for duty before a long migration.

Bathed in light, the dancers are divided into groups. They parrot each other, dancing in a round. The result is organized chaos, a kind of rumbling vibration.

But suddenly, it all resolves into a single, unified voice, a mass of movement made from the merging of so many bodies.

Yaron Abulafia’s lighting design is splendid. His lights hang from the ceiling on the diagonal, at various heights and lengths, allowing him to sculpt the space and the dancers' bodies to ultimate effect.

“And the Earth Shall Bear Again” (which had its world premiere at the English National Ballet in 2012) is the best work on the program. It begins with a man covering his eyes with his hands, withdrawing inside himself, while his torso undulates. The company, all dressed in short, black costumes, join him on stage. Then come the virtuoso fireworks.

Throughout the rapid barrage of movement in "Hikarizatto," a thread of softness, like a single hunger pang, is woven throughout. It appears in the minimalist soundtrack of John Cage, as well as the intervals of silence and stillness that give the work room to breathe.

The program also contains two duets, “Slash” and “Mono Lisa.” Elisa Carrillo Cabrera and Mikhail Kaniskin, guest soloists from the Berlin Opera Ballet, perform "Mono Lisa," and Kaniskin is particularly arresting: despite his virtuosity, his movement flows. Both dancers are polished to the maximum.

Without a doubt, this program moves the Israel Ballet forward. It creates a change that the dance community has been longing for.

The Israel Ballet was founded in 1967 and concerns over its future have cropped up several times. The "founding generation" is moving on, and questions of legacy persist.

Galili appears poised to accept the torch. He lives in the Netherlands and works with the best dance companies in the world, but never once ruled out the option of returning to Israel, where his children live.

The relationship that has been created with Galili is a blessing, almost a miracle. If he should be entrusted with the Israel Ballet, he will bring the life’s work of its founders to heights they only dreamed of.

The Israel Ballet: an evening of works by choreographer Itzik Galili. Hikarizatto – music by Percossa; Slash – music by Jeroen van Veen; Mono Lisa – music by Thomas Hofs and Itzik Galili; And the Earth Shall Bear Again – music by John Cage. Costumes: Natasja Lansen; lighting design: Yaron Abulafia. Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, Tel Aviv, November 8.

Dancers at the Israel Ballet rehearse the choreography of Itzik Galili.Credit: courtesy
The choreographer Itzik GaliliCredit: Daniel Tchetchik

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