Hofesh Shechter often gets annoyed when people only see Jewish or Israeli references in his choreography. “It’s a very interesting, conflicted way the world sees Jews,” he told me a while back. “People [in England] refer to me as Jewish rather than Israeli. There’s this pigeonhole, this file that says ‘Jewish’ on it.”
Every time you watch the New York City Ballet, you are under the heal of George Balanchine, the company's founding choreographer and the 20th century's greatest dance-maker. Many people know how he got there: Lincoln Kirstein, the son of a wealthy Jewish businessman and the company's co-founder, brought him over from Europe. But what many don't know is that there was another heir to a Jewish fortune--Rene Blum--who tried to get him first.
The New York City Ballet began its winter season last week and, as a ballet fan, I tried, as I do each year, to come up with a Jewish story about it. Alas, I always come up short.
Sure, there are stories you could write about Jewish dancers and the occasional choreographer, and I’ve done my share. But let’s be honest, there is a conspicuous absence of serious Jewish content in ballet. And it’s interesting to consider why.
This Sunday I went to see Alvin Ailey American Dancer Theater at City Center. It's the 50th anniversary of its landmark piece, "Revelations," created by the company's founder, Ailey, who died of AIDS in 1989. And each night of the company's month-long stay they're staging the work.
Israeli ex-pat choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s new piece for the Cedar Lake ballet may or may not have anything to do with shtetl life.
When the Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter moved to London in 2002, he thought he could leave his past behind. But no luck: “In the back of the mind of the audience, they know I’m Israeli,” Shechter said in a recent interview. “I feel that this is how people look at me.”