A masterclass given by Dana Ruttenberg; photo by John Hogg; courtesy Israeli Embassy South Africa.

New York, NY – August 28, 2012 – Nine leading Israeli artists will bring their talent and passion to residencies at colleges and universities across North America this fall and spring. The artists – celebrated in a variety of disciplines, including filmmaking, choreography, music and literature – will spend several months teaching and presenting their work to audiences in local communities through relevant programming, classes, exhibitions and performances.

Among the artists coming this year are two esteemed writers: Gail Hareven and Sami Berdugo. Hareven is an established novelist whose fiction has appeared in The New Yorker. She will be hosted by Mt. Holyoke College in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Hampshire College. Hareven recently completed a project translating Shakespeare’s sonnets into Hebrew with Dr. Avi Hasner, a distinguished physician and deputy director at an Israeli hospital.

A young writer and popular creative writing teacher, Berdugo has received much critical attention for his work, “which consistently breaks new poetic paths, thus challenging contemporary Israeli literature,” according to Hebrew literature specialist Dr. Hanna Soker-Schwager. Already the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize (2005), the Neumann Prize (2007) at Bar Ilan University and, most recently, the Ramat Gan Prize (2011) for his new book, “That Is To Say,” Berdugo is one of the exciting voices of North African descent now emerging in Israel. He will be teaching at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, for the spring semester.

The other 2012-2013 Schusterman Visiting Artists are:

  • Experimental composer and sound artist Amnon Wolman, who will be an artist-in-residence at Harvard University this fall. Wolman has been involved in a broad range of artistic endeavors all over the world, and his catalogue of compositions includes works involving computer-generated and processed sounds, symphonic works, vocal and chamber pieces, film scores, and music for theater and dance.
  • Documentary filmmaker Duki Dror will be the University of California, Santa Cruz, for the winter quarter. His most recent work, “Incessant Visions” (2011), about famed architect Erich Mendelsohn, has been screened at dozens of film festivals around the world. In 2010, PBS screened a series of three of Dror’s earlier works, including “Journey of Vaan Nguyen” (2005) about Vietnamese refugees in Israel and “Fantasia” (2001) about his family’s emigration from Iraq to Israel.
  • Highly regarded in the World Music scene, percussionist Zohar Fresco is considered the world’s master of the frame drum. This winter he will be in residence at Florida State University in Tallahassee, which has the third-largest music program in U.S. higher education. At the end of his stay, he will be a leading performer at the school’s annual Rainbow Concert.
  • Musicians Michael and Shimrit Greilsammer will be at Carleton University in Ottawa this winter. A violinist and singer-songwriter, Michael Greilsammer blends Irish, reggae and rock music. His first album, “Je me reveille” (“Waking Up”), was released by a major French label, and his second album is a collaboration with his wife, Shimrit, a vocalist. Greilsammer has been a supporting act for international artists including Macy Gray and Ziggy Marley.
  • Next spring, Guy Meirson will be teaching screenwriting at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He wrote the script for “Rock the Casbah,” which was recently nominated for several Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, including Best Picture. He has been a writer for two other feature films and two Israeli television series, among other projects.
  • Choreographer Dana Ruttenberg will be in residence for the spring semester at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She had her own company, based in New York, from 2000-2003, when she created works that were showcased at venues such as Joyce Soho, White Wave and the Toronto Fringe Festival. Since returning to Israel in 2003, Ruttenberg has been choreographing for a number of groups, including the Batsheva Dance Ensemble, the IntimaDance Festival and Curtains Up. Her work has been performed in Hungary, Italy, Russia, Senegal and the U.S., among other countries.
  • One of Israel’s leading young choreographers Idan Sharabi was commissioned to create new works in Israel, Denmark and Switzerland during the last two years, and in the past year, his works were performed in seven countries. A graduate of Juilliard, Sharabi was awarded the school’s Zeraspe Award for Best Choreography in 2006. He was formerly a dancer with the renowned Batsheva Dance Company and the Nederlands Dans Theater. Sharabi will be teaching at the University of California at Irvine during the spring quarter.

With support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and others, the Schusterman Visiting Artists Program is one of the largest organized residency programs of Israeli artists in the U.S. It awards Israeli artists – including filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, writers and visual artists – long-term residencies at North American universities, museums, Jewish community centers and other cultural organizations, with a focus on fostering interaction between the artists and the communities in which they are based.

About: The Schusterman Visiting Artists Program was founded in June 2008 to provide a new avenue for connecting North American audiences with Israel through the lens of Israeli artists embedded in residencies in communities across the U.S.