Internationally acclaimed dancer Ella Ben-Aharon has been heralded for her choreography and performance. She is from Israel, which has been called the world's leader in contemporary dance.
This semester, she is here in Atlanta, teaching dance to Kennesaw State University students. That's through the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program, which places 14 Israeli artists in universities across the United States.
On what accounts for Israel’s prowess in contemporary, Ben-Aharon said, “I think in our DNA we carry this survival mechanism. That sense is really pushing a creative way to go about life. … It breeds creativity when you have to struggle.”
The KSU dance department has been building relationships with Israeli artists even before Ben-Aharon’s residency. This past summer, department chair Ivan Pulinkala took students to Israel to study with some leading dance companies.
“For us, it’s a logical site to invest in taking our students there, in bringing artists from there,” Pulinkala said. “I wanted the students to understand how the political and religious history of Israel has shaped contemporary dance and certainly contemporary art.”
Atlanta will also host the EXPOSED dance festival later this fall. That will feature a number of Israeli dancers at venues across the city. Ben-Aharon will open the festival on Oct. 5 and also perform in KSU’s event “MELD.”