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   Date: 2/12/10 Bookmark and Share

Israeli Choreographer to Bring Swan Lake to 5 Colleges

First Public Talk at Smith Monday, Feb. 15

Idan Cohen

Israeli choreographer Idan Cohen’s recent production of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet Swan Lake is a decidedly modernistic treatment, sleek and brief in comparison to typical versions, brash in its imagery and more abstract in the flow of the storyline. Despite its artistic distinction, and perhaps because of it, Cohen’s version of Swan Lake has enjoyed enormous success in Israel and Europe.

Cohen will bring members of his company to the Five Colleges in April for the United States premiere performance of his Swan Lake.

Cohen is visiting Smith and Amherst colleges this semester as a Schusterman Visiting Artist. The program brings Israeli artists to renowned institutions in the United States with the intention of providing opportunities for U.S. audiences to engage with contemporary Israeli culture.

Scenes from Cohen's Swan Lake:

As part of his residency, Cohen will host his first event at Smith on Monday, Feb. 15, when he speaks on a variety of subjects, from Israeli art and dance to his sources of creativity and inspiration, and ways in which kibbutz socialist philosophy influences aesthetics in dance and choreography. Cohen’s talk will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Seelye 106.

Cohen, whose residency is with the Five College Dance Department and Smith and Amherst Hillels, will hold subsequent master classes at other consortium colleges throughout the spring semester.

At the end of his residency, dancers from Cohen’s company will join him for the local performance of Swan Lake, as well as a performance at the Center for Performance Research in New York City.

“My version of Swan Lake is definitely different from the original ballet,” commented Cohen. “It speaks to different aspects and values of beauty and aesthetic than those in the famous Swan Lake ballet [choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov]. It is full of things (like certain emotions and passions) that are not usually considered to be ‘normal’ and expected behavior.”

Cohen joins seven other preeminent Israeli artists as this year’s Schusterman Artists, including: author Alex Epstein, one of Israel’s rising literary stars, hosted by Denver University; filmmaker Ayelet Bargur, director of The House on August Street, at the Pittsburgh Jewish and Israeli Film Festival; musician Amir Gwirtzman, hosted by the Institute for Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Miss.

“The importance and the beauty of the Schusterman Program is its concept of giving and receiving,” said Cohen. “For example, I am here to give and share my movement and my culture but also to develop as an artist. The beauty of it isn’t just about the teaching or showing the work but in the inspiration I get from everyone I encounter.”

The Schusterman Visiting Artist Program, partly funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, is one of the largest organized residency programs for Israeli artists in the U.S. It awards Israeli artists—including filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, writers and visual artists—two- to four-month residencies at North American universities, museums, Jewish community centers and other cultural organizations, with a focus on fostering interaction between the artists and the communities where they are based.


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