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CARLO WOLFF, The Cleveland Jewish News   |  November 03, 2014

Kibbutz Contemporary dancers to present 'If At All'

Representations of relationships with the self, with others, with the community will unfurl when the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, one of Israel's premier dance troupes, presents "If At All" at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square Nov. 8 and 9, according to its international director, Yoni Avital.

"If At All" was created by Rami Be'er, the company's longtime artistic director. According to the company's website, it's "a moving theatrical event in figurative and abstract circles, from the closed form to the open structure. Physical space in motion whose essence is a chain of events of diverse and ever-changing interpersonal relationships."

Avital did not want to reveal too much about the work, but indicated it's not linear or narrative. The set will be minimal, he said. "If At All" is 65 uninterrupted minutes.

In an Oct. 27 telephone interview from Israel, Avital, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who moved to Israel with his wife six years ago, said Kibbutz Contemporary is very well known in Israel, where Yehudit Arnon, a Czechoslakian native who survived Auschwitz, founded it in 1973. Armon died last August at age 87.

In 1944, Avital said, a German officer ordered Arnon out of the Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks, telling her she had to dance for a Christmas party of Auschwitz staff. Arnon refused, so the Nazis made her stand in the cold. "She promised she would survive that night and would devote her life to dance and education," Avital said.

After World War II, Arnon made her way to Budapest and in 1949, along with other Hungarian immigrants, moved to Kibbutz Ga'aton near the Lebanon border.

To fulfill her twin mission, Arnon established her dance company. Kibbutz Ga'aton evolved into the site of what has come to be known as the International Dance Village, home base for more than 60 dancers from Israel and around the world.

Now Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company has two branches. The first, which will play Cleveland, offers work geared toward adults. The second presents dances oriented toward students through high school age. The Cleveland dates will feature 17 dancers.

Kibbutz Contemporary also offers dancers 18 and older an opportunity to study for five or 10 months through its Dance Journey program.

"We're a very well-known company," Avital said, noting the troupe just returned from several weeks' tour in Europe. Its dance card is certainly full, according to its website, Kibbutz Contemporary performances, which draw critical raves, are known for their physicality and expressiveness.

The "If At All" performances are presented by DANCECleveland, with sponsorship from the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

WHAT: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company present "If At All"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 8, 3 p.m. Nov. 9

WHERE: Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland

TICKETS & INFO: Ticket prices start at $25. Call 216-241-6000 or visit


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