MARCH 6-10, 2019

“We become more aware of our form. We connect to the sense of the endlessness of possibilities. We explore multi-dimensional movement; we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are ready to snap, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it. We change our movement habits by finding new ones. We go beyond our familiar limits. We can be calm and alert at once.”

 – Ohad Naharin

Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance, 1990-2017

This multi-day Dancing Lab highlighted the strength of Israeli dance as a national pastime, and asked questions around its influence on American choreography as well as how national identity informs dancemaking. NCCAkron convened Israeli and American artists to meet, learn from each other, compare notes and share their experiences with audiences through panel discussions, films, and classes.

Dance as Cultural Diplomat was timed to coincide with NCCAkron Founding Partner DanceCleveland's presentation of Jerusalem-based Vertigo Dance Company on Saturday, March 9 at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland. 

Event highlights are listed below. 

Let’s Dance

A film by Gabriel Bibliowicz

Presented by Chagrin Documentary FilmFest and Mandel Jewish Community Center

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 — 7pm

Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, 40 River St., Chagrin Falls OH

Run time: 72 minutes


Let's Dance examines how Israel, despite its reputation as a militaristic and "macho" society, became a recognized world leader in modern dance. Through archive material, interviews, and visual demonstration, the film follows the circumstances that made Israeli modern dance one of the country's most significant cultural achievements to date, and examines the interrelation of 20th century modern dance and Zionism.

Dancing Conversation: Cultural Diplomacy

Part of the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection Forum Series

Thursday, March 7, 2019 — 7pm

Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Mandel Building, 25701 Science Park Dr., Beachwood OH

Come hear from American and Israeli artists that have performed both at their respective homes and abroad-- how these experiences have informed their choreographic practices and, in some cases, changed their lives. 

Tickets: $10

Mr. Gaga

A film by Tomer Heymann

Co-Presented by The University of Akron School of Dance, Theatre and Arts Administration


Friday, March 8, 2019 — 12:30pm

The University of Akron's Paul A. Daum Theatre, 328 E Buchtel Ave., Akron OH


Run time: 100 minutes


An eight-year collaboration between filmmaker Tomer Heymann and his subject, Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, led to this exuberant feast for the senses. It illuminates the creative process of a bold artist known as a prickly taskmaster, charismatic genius, and icon of modern dance. Documentary Audience Award winner at the SXSW Film Festival.

Tickets: free

Experiential Learning: Gaga/People class with James Graham

Friday, March 8, 2019 — 4pm-5:30pm

The University of Akron's Guzzetta Hall, Room 194, Akron, OH

Gaga is the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin, parallel to his work as a choreographer and artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company. Gaga/Dancers classes serve as Batsheva's daily training and are taught in professional dance companies and schools around the world, while Gaga/People classes are open to everyone age 16+, with no previous dance experience required. Certified Gaga-instructor and San Francisco-based artist James Graham will lead a guided movement experience of images, ideas, directions, and prompts. Everyone works at their own volume, so whether you have never moved or move every day, you can connect to Gaga.  No mirrors or observers are permitted.


​Tickets: free

Vertigo Dance Company

Presented by DANCECleveland

Saturday, March 9, 2019 — 7:30pm

The Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square, 1511 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115

One of Israel's most highly regarded contemporary dance companies, Vertigo's dancers are grounded and organic yet driven and unyielding. The March performance of Vertigo Dance Company at Playhouse Square will feature their new work "One. One & One" created by Artistic Director Noa Wertheim.

​Tickets: $25+,

Master Classes

Sunday, March 10, 2019 — 12pm-5pm
The University of Akron's Guzzetta Hall, Akron, OH


A series of free master classes by Dancing Lab artists James Graham, Alon Karniel, and Ariel Freedman will be available to pre-professional and professional dancers by invitation only. 


Dancing Lab: Dance as Cultural Diplomat was supported by The Jewish Federation’s Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, the Akron Community Foundation, GAR Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and Peg’s Foundation.

Photo credits: Tony Nguyen, Gadi Dagon, and Udi Hillman.

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