Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre, Tel Aviv

Naomi Perlov e Sarah Holcman

It would be wonderful to contribute to the building of a new vision where actions are carved on a shared communal ground.”

This was the last phrase of the invitation I received to write this article. It struck me, and I decided to use it as a base for developing thoughts around my artistic vision for the Suzanne Dellal Centre, of which I am the new artistic director as of March 2020.
For me, deconstruction offers an entry point into understanding. Much of my work as a rehearsal director, teacher, and artistic director, comes from an almost obsessive interest in breaking things down to their most minimal and core essence. To deconstruct something that has weight – the weight of history, a mass of activities, and a heavy responsibility to diverse communities – cries out for a deconstruction of all of its parts, including its voids, what we see and what we do not see. Therefore, I have taken some of the words from this sentence as the inspiration to share my vision.


When you come to a place with such history as Suzanne Dellal Centre, you have to reflect on that history, dig into it, decipher what is contained in that history in its physical and emotional aspects. To dig into the local scene and culture, relating to time, change, progress, means to gain a deeper understanding of the scene and be able to reflect on it. Once I have an understanding of what exists, I can not only carve, but also consider the negative space. What can fill this space and reinforce the existing structure? How can I carve out space for the future?

The Atlas Slave, Michelangelo

I founded, with Offir Dagan, the Maslool, a professional training program for gifted dancers aged 18-20, to provide a dance education that I felt did not exist in Israel. I had a huge opportunity to develop in structure as something active, not passive, so I created an institution where every moment leaves space for possibility. It is full of action. It can be severe – in a good way – to foster freedom and encourage responsibility through discipline.

My vision for the Centre expands this consideration of “foundation” to thinking of the structure of the larger professional scene. To build something you have to dig until you hit the bedrock, then work back up from there. Now I have the opportunity to bring this fertile ground with me from the Maslool and to reconstruct the roots of the Centre. The framework of education and training constitutes the foundation and the pillars that can support the activity of the Centre.

Front side facade of Girls’ School (now Suzanne
Dellal Centre), Jaffa, early 1900

Back side facade of Girls’ School (now Suzanne
Dellal Centre), Jaffa, early 1900

The action now is to bridge these elements together – youth with professionals, training with practicality, local culture with professional dance, past and present, the school and the Centre. My wish is to create a system that feeds itself, encourages continuous learning and development, rewards curiosity and is mutually beneficial for all parties. Through integrating a school as a part of the Centre, I can see a way to creating a wholeness and a reflectiveness in which established artists and young artists are in a continuous relationship of sharing knowledge.

Shachar Hanin, student of the Maslool, by Anne-Sylvie Bonnet.

Shared Communal Ground
Here, in our young country, there is a constant drive toward pioneering, a deviation from tradition, and yet a need to preserve it. We have energy, passion, daring, “chutzpah,” and an audacity to persevere. You can see it in Israeli dance, which is not closely associated with the tradition of classical ballet. I am Israeli but lived and worked many years in Europe, so I feel these clashes of culture firsthand. I think of my parents, when they came to Israel, how they experienced a real clash of cultures. Academics from Europe and South America coming to milk cows in a kibbutz and to be immersed in a strong communal ideology.

Kibbutz Bror Hayl, David Perlov 1958

I see the transition from a clash of cultures to a shared Israeli culture, influenced by the heritage and histories of the many immigrants who settled here. Now, the young generation of dancers already feel that they own this place – they feel they belong and they carry all these streams of difference with them as they form a new Israeli identity.

This new identity emanating from the next generation needs a haven to flourish. One of my main goals is to establish a repertory company that can hold the works of diverse Israeli choreographers and highlight the evolving Israeli identity. Most of the dance companies in Israel are affiliated with a single choreographer; there is no repertory company that displays the breadth of the unique Israeli scene, or that focuses on cultivating young choreographers. It’s important not only to reflect on this, but to establish a body for creation that can offer a serious space for this investigation of the self and the community.

Mercury’s (Hermes) Winged Feet,
Jardín Botánico, Buenos Aires by Ignacio

It is wonderful to share knowledge; to connect the enthusiasm of youth with professional life; to know different worlds; to keep learning; to bridge different communities; to have a house.
What we have founded here at the Suzanne Dellal Centre is wonderful. It has a rich history representing the country, the people, the local dance scene. I took the job as artistic director because what was here was good, because it stimulated me. My instinct told me there is still more to do, more potential. I wonder what more I can contribute to this place. I like challenges and this challenge will take time. I am not in a hurry.

Thomas Ruff, Interieur 8C, 1981. (Düsseldorf)

Naomi Perlov has studied dance at Bat Dor School in Israel, at Schola Cantorum in Paris, with Milton Myers in New York. She qualified with first-class honours at Benesh Institute of Choreology in 1984. In 1994-98 she was artistic co-director at Batsheva Ensemble with Ohad Naharin. She has founded The Maslool, a biennal professional program of dance at Bikurey Ha’Itim Arts Center- Tel-Aviv-Jaffa; and Deconstruction – a methodologic course for dance teachers. In 2020, she was appointed director of Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre in Tel Aviv.

Sarah Holcman is a dance artist, arts manager, and independent curator and producer working primarily in contemporary dance. She holds a BFA in Dance/Choreography from Arizona State University. Sarah has worked with numerous contemporary dance organizations and institutions including the Hollins University/American Dance Festival Masters of Fine Arts program, Movement Research, the 92nd St Y, Danspace Project, and Gibney Dance Center. As a freelance arts manager, Sarah has worked with John Jasperse, Jennifer Monson, and Sarah Michelson, among others. Sarah has performed with numerous choreographers in New York and internationally, most notably with Larissa Velez-Jackson (New York) and Deborah Hazler (Vienna). She currently lives in Tel Aviv and serves as the Director of Programs at the Suzanne Dellal Centre.

The Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre is Israel’s main presenter of Israeli and international dance. Established in 1989, the Centre offers diverse performances, events, festivals, programs and workshops from the world of contemporary dance and performing arts. The Centre has launched dozens of innovative programs to nurture and support new work and emerging artists, providing platforms to expose young artists and bring dance to new audiences.


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