Since artistic dance began in Israel, classical ballet has been at the margins of artistic activity and creation. There are several established dance companies in Israel, but only one of classical ballet – The Israel Ballet. Unlike modern dance, where fringe activities thrive, Israeli classical ballet has no fringe activities whatsoever.
To dance stories means to tell stories to an audience. Astonishingly enough, despite the large number of story ballets and works of other dance genres narrating plots, dance analysis has neglected this side of the theatre performance. Thus, current research practice shows a clear focus on issues relating to choreography, movement and the performer. Moreover, the opinion, expounded by Italian lecturer Marco de Marinis (1993) and English dance analyst Janet Adshead (1988), that a performance can only be analysed via audio-visual recordings has resulted in a dogmatic treatment of dance analysis and its methods.
The flourishing of Israeli dance in the last decade, among Israeli creators and performers, is not self-evident. Decades have passed until a combination of creativity and technical ability came to fruition. In this article I will focus on one chapter in the history of dance in Israel. The period in question, beginning in 1964 (the year Batsheva Dance Company was founded), was characterized on one hand by lack of belief in the creative abilities of Israeli choreographers, and on the other hand by an immense improvement in the dancers’ abilities and in the professionalism of performances.
Today, after the giants in the Israeli dance world whom we worshipped in the 1960s and 1970s fell and others arose and also fell away, it seems that the artistic concept of the pageant is not obsolete, but is even ahead of its time. How are the holidays of ancient Israeli history celebrated in modern Israel? This question occupied the best of artistic and popular dance professionals in pre-State Israel of the 1930s and 1940s. Thus was born the pageant—a combination of Hebrew text declaimed and sung and of holiday dances performed under the open sky.