The Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program will bring 13 prominent Israeli artists for residencies at top universities across the United States for the 2017-2018 academic year. Among the artists are director, writer, and co-creator of the hit HBO TV series “In Treatment” Nir Bergman, who will team-teach with award-winning documentary filmmaker David Ofek; Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Tamar Kay, whose “The Mute’s House” won international acclaim; and choreographer Roy Assaf, whose company will perform at New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center (NY) during his tenure.
The Visiting Artists Program is an initiative of the Israel Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based academic institute aimed to enhance the study of modern Israel by bringing Israeli filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, writers and visual artists to leading universities and other cultural organizations in North America for residencies.
The program, founded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation in 2008, fosters interaction between the artists and the communities in which they are based, exposing a broader audience to contemporary Israeli culture.
“What makes the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program unique and so effective is the ways in which it connects members of the host community and the visiting artists in a variety of settings, from formal to informal, over a significant period of time, rather than the more typical one-off experience,” says Marge Goldwater, the program’s director. “As we look back on the last nine years, we see that the success of the residencies has prompted host institutions to continue to find ways to bring Israeli cultural leaders to their communities after the Schusterman artist has left.”
Since inception, the program has supported 83 residencies at colleges and universities across North America. To date, 93 artists have participated, among them a recipient of The Israel Prize, Israel’s most prestigious award; an Emmy nominee; numerous recipients of Israel’s highest literary awards; and many winners of multiple Israeli Oscars.
The artists in the 2017-18 programs are as follows:
Roy Assaf, The Juilliard School. Assaf is a leading Israeli choreographer of the younger generation, having received commissions from renowned companies including Benjamin Millepied’s Los Angeles Dance Project (LADP), the Royal Swedish Ballet, and the Batsheva Dance Company. Assaf, whose company was featured in July at the renowned dance venue Jacob’s Pillow, first made his mark working with internationally recognized dancer and choreographer Emanuel Gat, touring worldwide with him as both performer and choreographic assistant from 2004-2009.
Nir Bergman and David Ofek, San Diego State University. Two of Israel’s most highly regarded filmmakers will be team-teaching this fall. Bergman, a director, writer, and co-creator of In Treatment, the successful television series in Israel and abroad, has won many international awards for his feature films and television series. Ofek’s documentary No. 17, featured in MoMA’s New Directors/New Films series, was screened in 80 international festivals. Other documentaries have tackled subjects as wide-ranging as home hospice care and the Israeli songwriter Eli Mohar.
Ati Citron, State University of New York at Stony Brook. Citron, one of Israel’s most versatile theater artists, directs the sign language theater laboratory at the University of Haifa, where he was former chair of the theater department. He has staged works in many countries and been the artistic director of many festivals, from the Bat-Yam International Street Theater Festival to the Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre. He has also taught and lectured on professional academic training for medical clowns all over the world. Citron has a Ph.D. in performance studies from New York University.
Omri Drumlevich, Princeton University. As a member of the Batsheva Dance Company from 2012-2017, Drumlevich performed in such venues as the Brooklyn Academic of Music (BAM), the Kennedy Center, the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, and the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, Russia. While in the company, he performed works by Ohad Naharin, Sharon Eyal, and Roy Assaf. He has choreographed works for the Batsheva Ensemble and Batsheva Dance Company dancers and created multi-disciplinary works at the Tel Aviv Museum and elsewhere; he is a longtime teacher of Gaga, Naharin’s movement language, teaching in Tel Aviv and internationally.
Victoria Hanna, University of California, Berkeley. Public Radio International (PRI) calls Hanna the “freshest, edgiest, weirdest artist on the Israeli airwaves today.” The daughter of an Egyptian father, who was an Orthodox rabbi steeped in the world of Hebrew, and a Persian mother, Hanna has created her own sound, inspired by Hebrew and religious texts, blending Middle Eastern music and rhythms with rap and hip-hop. Her performance piece of the Hebrew alphabet, Hosha’ana (Aleph-bet), which incorporated the Hebrew alphabet with prayer, became an instant classic. In May 2017, she released her first self-titled album, which has been highly praised by critics.
Ronit Ziv, Pomona and Scripps Colleges. One of Israel’s most active choreographers, Ziv has been performing and creating work for dance and theater companies in Israel, Europe, and the Former Soviet Union since 1999. An experienced teacher, she taught the Batsheva Ensemble for three years and currently teaches at the Maslool Professional School for Dance in Tel Aviv, now a focal point for contemporary dance, attracting students from around the world.
In a special arrangement, filmmakers Tamar Kay and Or Sinai will visit several American campuses in the Northeast during a three-week tour. Tamar Kay’s first film, The Mute’s House, was one of 10 Academy Award nominations for Best Short Documentary this year. The film won many other awards, in festivals from Europe to Israel to Australia. Her classmate at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, Or Sinai, was a winner this past June at the Cannes Film Festival for the Best Student Film, prevailing over more than 2,000 other entries from 227 film schools around the world. Her film, Anna, stars Evgenia Dodina, one of Israel’s most revered actresses.
Hana Ajiashvili, Rice University. Composer Hana Ajiashvili has received commissions from one of Israel’s leading new music groups, the Meitar Ensemble; the Trio Musical, Madrid; Dresden Trumpet Nights; and many others. Her work is in the repertoire of Meitar and New York’s internationally-acclaimed new music ensemble Continuum. Among her awards, she received Israel’s Prime Minister’s Award for Composition in 2008. Initially trained in Moscow, she received a Ph.D. in composition from Bar-Ilan University.
Rachel Erdos, Brown University. Since the beginning of her career, Erdos has been receiving choreography commissions from dance companies in Europe, the United States, Africa, and Israel. A recipient of many honors, in 2015, Erdos received the Independent Choreographer of the Year Award from the Ministry of Culture in Israel. Her work has been presented at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, New York’s Joyce Theater, and London’s Royal Opera House, among other venues. She has taught in a variety of international settings, including the United States, England, China, Switzerland, and Senegal.
Ayelet Gundar–Goshen, San Francisco State University. Gundar-Goshen is the author of Waking Lions, a bestselling novel in Europe and Israel and just released in the United States to outstanding reviews. The book has been adapted as an American television series and a film. Gundar-Goshen won the prestigious Sapir Prize for Debut Fiction in 2012, and her film and TV screenplays have also won international recognition.
Roy Horovitz, University of Texas, Austin. An actor, director, and dramaturge, Horovitz has been touring the world in Dan Clancy’s The Timekeepers for the past several years. He has directed on the stages of both the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv and the Habima National Theater, two of Israel’s leading theaters, among others. Horovitz has taught theater at several institutions, including the University of Haifa, and has a regular spot on a radio broadcast, “Front Row,” which he also edits.