Thursday, October 13, 2016

Exposed Festival: Guest Artist Spotlight - Yossi Berg and Oded Graf

The Israeli Dance & Theater Festival at Emory Starts TODAY!

EXPOSED is a six-week festival of contemporary dance and physical theatre featuring Israeli and local artists, made possible through an unprecedented partnership between CORE, the award-winning contemporary dance organization based in Decatur, Ga. and Houston, Texas, 7 Stages Theatre, Emory University Dance Program/Candler Concert Series, Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University. Richly-layered, boundary-blurring performances, workshops and classes will be offered throughout metro Atlanta from October through mid-November. A complete schedule can be found at 

As a part of EXPOSED and the Candler Concert Series, the Emory Dance Program proudly presents Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre. Read below for excerpts of an interview with Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, as they discuss their backgrounds in dance, choreographic process, and their newest discoveries here at Emory!

*Responses have been edited for clarity.

On visiting Atlanta...

"We are here at the university which is more like green around and more of the city. I find it very interesting, this mixture of urban life. And at the same time there’s a zone of more tranquility. I like being in the environment of creation and creating with people. It creates a nice energy of curiosity about stuff and exploring the language."--Yossi Berg

"You know like in the beginning you don’t know nothing when you’re hearing about Atlanta, and here we are and there’s a lot of activity. And it seems to be quite current, people are updated and know what’s going on. It’s fantastic."--Oded Graf

On dance training...


"I started dancing when I was thirteen in the arts school. This is where I started learning ballet, creating, modern, all that stuff. I was dancing for three years, and while I was in high school I went to private studios to enrich my education in ballet and all the rest of techniques. I did some summer courses intensively and at the age of fifteen, I was accepted to the Batsheva Dance Company and I moved to Tel Aviv. I was dancing with Batsheva for six years and started to create while I was in the company. After I left, I did a project with a company named Deviate Physical Theater in London and Australia where we toured around the world a bit. And besides doing other projects as a freelance dancer I started choreographing myself and becoming a freelance choreographer. I was choreographing, doing my own work, teaching, creating for students, and working as a guest choreographer for companies in Europe until I met this guy in 2005. We started collaborating and doing our own work and then actually everything focused around our company."--Yossi Berg

"I have a little bit different story. I started to dance late, only after I finished my military story of three years. It almost happened by coincidence, if you could call it coincidence. I arrived to it a little bit late just from curiosity.  I had a hidden passion to dance, but I thought I was too mature to just begin at the age of twenty-one, twenty-two. But I joined a school in North of Israel owned by Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. It’s a very special place it’s in a small village like full of green. I was caught by the magic of dance totally. And quite fast, everything happened and I was learning intensively and my body was adjusting super-fast. It kind of came together rapidly and a year and a half after I was just starting the school, I was already accepted to the company. Later on I started to freelance in Israel and do some projects, in 2004 I moved to Copenhagen (in Denmark) for some projects and when I came back I started to work with Yossi. We slowly started our company and this is our 11th year working together constantly."--Oded Graf 

On creating work...

"Things that inspire us as we want to reflect: an emotion, music that we hear, a movie that we see, just life things that we want to comment on, relationships with people, etc. So I think it all motivates us to create, reflect, say something, and express ourselves about the world we are living and our point of view. I feel like in each piece its very very different sometimes it’s a very theatrical approach like we really want to tell a story so there’s more narrative; there is character, a bit more of a thread or line that we are following. Sometimes it’s more fragmented, like we want to express a certain color, certain musicality or physical dynamic. It’s very dependent on who we work with and how long the piece is. If it’s a very short piece, sometimes we prefer to work on something more physical based. It all changes."--Oded Graf

On residence at Emory University...

"One aspect of our research with our own group is physicality and exploring physical movement and partnering. We thought this could be a small signature of ours. So it would be nice to explore with students we don’t know in a very short amount of time. It could be interesting because we can create a language with them and then let them use this language to create more. We came with an idea and we came with material that we were teaching, but now we’re building with the material and playing with that. There are so many different things that we’re putting together. We do want, in a very short time, for the students to get a taste of how we work and how we explore movement. And maybe this is something that can inspire them and let them experience our angle. Maybe it can help enrich their universe of dance."--Yossi Berg 

"The biggest difference, here at Emory, is the dancers we work with are also students for other faculties which makes a huge difference in the mind. Usually I work with students that are only dance majors, so all their focus, all their intention, all their schedules only surrounding dance. I was talking with the students; one who’s learning science, another one religion, math, etc, etc. I feel here that it’s interesting and also fascinating. "
--Oded Graf 

Don't miss Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre's Come Jump With Me showing at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, October 13-15 at 7:30pm.

"For us, it’s a unique one I feel like we went into a different path in our creation, so we’re very excited to perform it here."--Oded Graf 

Come Jump With Me is a daring, provocative, and witty work that examines the relevancy and significance of creating art in the urgent political reality of Israel. The piece serves as a dialogue between the choreographers and Israel, the country where they live, and the identity crisis in which they find themselves. In the explosive political and social reality of Israel, this work indeed pushes the limits and “plays with fire,” both literally and visually. Set in an imaginative playground involving different levels of consciousness, the performers move among personal and collective figures of history in a fantastic adventure, while trying to understand what future they are marching toward and their own definitions of “holiness.” The audience is invited to join them on an emotional roller coaster – from moments that are ecstatic and poetic, to moments examining the relevancy and significance of creating art in the urgent political reality of Israel.

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