A Philadelphia-based modern dance company founded by an Israeli-born choreographer who first danced in the Yemeni folk tradition will perform Saturday in North Idaho.
The Jacklin Arts & Cultural Center in Post Falls got a $10,000 Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help pay for the Koresh Dance Company’s visit. The grants are meant to help organizations produce arts events that wouldn’t typically be seen in their regions.
It was easy to make the case that contemporary dance is hard to find in North Idaho, said Liisa Spink, the Jacklin Center’s executive director. And because the record of such performances is rare, contemporary dance can be intimidating for audiences, she said.
“When communities aren’t introduced to certain genres, that genre gets lost on an audience,” Spink said. “… It takes people willing to program it to introduce them, to give them an opportunity to see what it’s about. You only know what you know.”
The company’s 11 dancers will perform their 20th anniversary program, a retrospective of excerpts from the company’s larger works over the years. Led by Ronen Koresh, the company blends modern, ballet and jazz dance. Much of Koresh’s work is also influenced by Yemeni folk dancing, which he learned as a child while training with his mother and as part of a local folk dance group in Tel Aviv, Spink said.
He later trained with other teachers in Israel, becoming a member of Martha Graham’s Batsheva 2 Dance Company. After immigrating to the United States, Koresh trained at the celebrated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a primarily African-American modern dance company in New York City.
Spink said she was drawn to the company by its combination of inventive choreography and dancers skilled enough to carry it out.
“It is phenomenally entertaining, incredibly athletic. And it’s gorgeous music,” Spink said. “It’s like nothing you’ll ever have seen before.”
The company has toured throughout the U.S. as well Spain, Turkey, Israel, Mexico and Guatemala. Said Spink: “This is someone at the top of the genre and coming to North Idaho.”