Israel is known as a country of many immigrants, and as such – the country’s dance styles reflect a rich array of cultures and traditions from all over the world. Modern dance in Israel evolved from a combination of folk-dance from local settlers and the classic ballet of the new immigrants. Modern dance was the result and attempted to reflect the values of society, while developing a new independent Israeli style to fiatee modern age. This tension between the will to create a more modern style, and older dance traditions that arrived from all over the world, still exists today. This tension affects all new dance creations in Israel.
In the evolution of the modern Israeli dance there have been some key figures in the beginning of the twentieth century that had a major influence in its development as a major artistic endeavor. Since it is not possible to focus on all of these influencers, we have chosen to focus on key feminine figures of Israeli modern dance. The first of which is Gertrud Kraus, born in 1901 who migrated to Israel 1935 the expressionistic dance influence. Kraus started the Israeli dance group that lasted until the 1950s. Kraus then continued creating expressionistic dance through which she tried to send deeper messages of spirituality beyond materialism, and fulfillment through movement. In 1968 she won the Israeli award as a token of gratitude for her actions from a grateful nation.
A meeting between the Baroness Bethsabée de Rothschild and the American choreograph Martha Graham deeply affected the direction of Israeli dance. In 1964 the two created the Bat-Sheva modern dance group that operates to this day and is an international group of 40 dancers from Israel and other countries. Since the 1990s the group has been led by Ohad Naharin who is perhaps one of the most well known individuals in Israeli modern dance. Naharin invented the dance style “Gaga” that become popular worldwide. Shortly after creating Bat-Sheva, the Baroness Bethsabée de Rothschild also created the Bat-Dor dance school and the Bat-Dor dance group, together with Janet Ordman in 1976. The Bat-Dor group today displays dance that combines modern dance and classic ballet into a truly unique expressionist form.
In recent years the Israeli original dance creations have vastly grown, and the Israeli dance is now receiving international praise – practically becoming an important “export” of Israel. There is a lot of active creation in modern dance, and alongside Bat-Sheva led by Naharin, there are also a few other independent creative minds such as Yasmeen Godder. The leading house of Israeli dance is the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theaters located in Tel-Aviv, where you can watch dance performances and various festivals. Adama, the dance group of Liat Dor and Nir Ben-Gal, in Mitzpe-Ramon are groups that are highly recommended to see. The groups hold festivals throughout the year, in quiet areas of the desert, making the combination of dance and sound into a magical experience for the audience.