Dance’s summer home

It can take years for a theater to establish an audience. Regardless of the artists, the vision of the artistic director or the convenience of the location, becoming a staple in any city’s cultural map takes time and work. Since inhabiting a deluxe building near the Jaffa Flea Market in 2016, Jaffa’s Habait Theater has been gaining traction in the dance community. Operating within the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, Habait Theater is the first independent theater to open in Tel Aviv in more than two decades. Run by artistic directors Marina Beltov and Jason Danino Holt, Habait aims to fill in the nooks and crannies left open by its counterparts.
The dance sector in Tel Aviv, which boasts more artists per capita than nearly any other metropolis around the world, has struggled to find alternative performance spaces since the closing of Warehouse 2. Habait Theater’s arrival on the scene opened a few doors for these artists, allowing for a few different kinds of audience engagement. Choreographers can present works in one of several performance spaces or share work in one of the monthly open studios on Friday afternoons. And while the dance community may still center itself on other dance hubs, namely the Suzanne Dellal Center, Habait Theater’s summer program is putting up a good fight to vie for local audiences.
Through the end of August, and including performances already staged in July, Habait will have hosted 28 dance events including premieres, stage performances and studio showings.
This month will include two highly-anticipated premieres by local choreographers. Hillel Kogan will reveal the fruits of his most recent collaboration with Sharon Zuckerman Waiser titled What Now? Andrea Costanzo Martini and Cindy Sechet will unveil The King’s Camera.
In addition, Habait will host nine dance events including Simple Action and Demonstrate Restraint by Yasmeen Godder. Ella Rothschild and Gershon Waiserfirer will perform their duet IMO the Mouth is Redundant, and Jason Danino Holt will return Name Drop to the stage.
The list of choreographers to show works in the open studio series is packed with intriguing emerging and established names such as Roy Assaf, Tamar Lamm and David Kern, Rotem Tashach, Anat Grigorio, Merav Dagan and others. These meetings afford the audience an up-close-and-personal view of the artists and their works without the filter of stage lights and proscenium seating.
While Habait Theater might become the epicenter of Israeli dance, this summer’s program shows that dance is a priority for the directors of the space, that the theater has much to offer local artists and audiences, and that now is the time to mark the Jaffa building on our cultural maps.
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