By Francine Achbar, Executive Director
On a medical mission to Israel with my physician husband three years ago, I had the opportunity to spend a day at the annual international dance showcase at the Suzanne Dellal Dance Center in Tel Aviv. These showcases are designed to show presenters from around the world the outstanding dance that Israel has to offer.
Among the many excellent dance pieces I was particularly struck by Eshet (wife) that tells the little-known Genesis story of Jehuda, his sons, and his daughter-in-law Tamar. It is a compelling tale of marriage, rejection, seduction and intrigue. Elit Veber, the young woman choreographer/director who developed the piece, called it “the Bible’s first feminist story.”
What is so fascinating about this particular work is that two gifted dancers, Renana Raz and Yuval Fingerman play six different characters, through the use of body puppets and masks. The production is further enhanced by a soundtrack than includes the evocative Hebrew chanting of the story from the Torah.
I was determined to bring this innovative and memorable work to the New Center for Arts and Culture. But importing a small production from Israel is no simple task. Unlike the large, well-known touring troupes like Batsheva Dance Company that play large venues in many cities, presenting a small company without the economies of scale is a challenge. After three years of telephone negotiations, it seemed that bringing the dancers, production crew and props simply could not be done.
Last fall I mentioned my frustration at bringing this little gem to Avital Manor Peleg, the Israeli Consulate’s Director of Cultural Affairs. Luckily Avital is herself a theater director, very familiar with Elit Veber’s work. She quickly devised a plan for us to produce excerpts from Eshet that would give our audience the full impact of the performance without the full expense. And the Israeli Consulate of New England agreed to contribute to share the cost.
So we are delighted to be presenting Eshet for one night as part of our New Center Live series on Tuesday, March 20th at 7:30 PM at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. The program will include Boston arts journalist Joyce Kulhawik in conversation with Elit Veber and the dancers. Tickets are on sale now.