Beautiful. Abstract. Inspirational. These are just a few words one can use to describe Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s (KCDC) 2012 piece “If At All,” which you can see in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts from Nov. 19 to 21.
Wallis Interim Artistic Director Patricia Wolff said KCDC “is extraordinary and unique in the performing arts world, with works that reflect a passionate community of dancers who live and work together, and their shared experience in a company created and cultivated in Israel.”
She also added that this “is something we believe will be extremely moving and compelling for visitors to The Wallis.”
The late Yehudit Arnon founded KCDC in 1973. Her story is moving: When she was 17, she and her mother (who did not survive) were sent to Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, during the Holocaust. Arnon then went to the Birkenau concentration camp, where she covertly shared her love of movement with other inmates. When the Germans caught whiff of her talents, however, they ordered her to entertain them at Christmas. She refused and was forced to stand barefoot in the snow.
In May 1945, Arnon was freed from the concentration camp and vowed to make dance her life’s work. She traveled to Kibbutz Ga’aton in Israel and taught movement to children, eventually creating a dance center that grew to become KCDC. Arnon died in 2013.
Rami Be’er is Arnon’s successor and the company’s current artistic director, with more than 50 works under his belt. He is also the mastermind behind KCDC’s gripping “If At All.”
“The piece deals with the issue of our existence,” said Be’er in a press release. “We start as individuals, and then enter into society as couples, and then groups, all of us connected to life in the here and now.”
“Rami’s work — it’s not only choreography — his performances are about a full and comprehensive experience of choreography, movement, lighting, costumes and music,” KCDC’s international director Yoni Avital told the Jewish Journal in February. “He really is part of the whole creation.”
Be’er’s exclusive and unique choreographic character has become the company’s trademark both in Israel and abroad, with its technically strong and physically eclectic cast of dancers.
In Cleveland.com’s review of “If At All,” which was performed last weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, dancers Olga Stetsyuk and Renana Randy stood out for their powerful beauty.
“Stetsyuk danced with lithesome athletic power in Be'er's signature full-body, full-throttle movement style,” reads the review. “In a crouched stance, she stretched side to side into back-bent and arched poses that screamed beauty and power.”
Meanwhile, the writer compared Randy’s performance to that of a wild animal. She burst “onto the stage, being held back by a group of male dancers like a captured animal. She aggressively tried to break free from the men, holding her arms and torso, her long black hair whipping the air around them.”
When “If At All” concluded, the Cleveland audience gave it a standing ovation. With its positive reviews and acclaim, the Los Angeles crowd will surely give it the same appreciation.
The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will perform "If At All" for three days only, Nov. 19-21, at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in the Bram Goldsmith Theater.
Use code "KCDC20" to get a special discount offer on tickets! Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.