Israeli dancer Idan Cohen’s Holi with a twist

Israeli dancer Idan Cohen’s "Holi"

  •   Israeli dancer Idan Cohen’s "Holi"
  • Photo: Pritam Bandyopadhyay (Asian Age)

    My icon and my dreams

    MONDAY, 01 OCTOBER 2012


    Idan Cohen’s marvellous performance was based on the Indian festival of colours. He related it to aspiration, the body and borders. He spoke to Ila Sankrityayan

    Posters of Marilyn Monroe, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Sharmila Tagore wearing high heels and lipstick, created the backdrop to Idan Cohen’s performance, Holi, which was a part of INTERFACE 2012. The choreographer, who belongs to Israel, is interested in culture and ritual.

    So he was aware about Indian festivals, Gods and Goddess. Hindu myths have it that Krishna was jealous of fair-skinned Radha and pestered his foster mother Yashoda so much, that she told him that he could change Radha’s skin by sprinkling her with colours.

    Holi combined Hollywood and Bolywood’s pop culture Gods, with images of feminine beauty.

    “When I arrived in Kolkata, to collaborate with Sapphire Creations, I told dancers about this story. Ankita Dutta Gupta said that from childhood she aspired to be like Sharmila Tagore.

    “Another dancer, Kaushik Das idolised Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. While Noah Shiloh remarked that Marilyn Monroe was his icon.” Cohen explained, “I developed the idea of people dreaming about becoming like others. Even certain countries want to be ahead of others and create some boundaries. So you see a Bollywood actresses aping one of the Hollywood divas.”

    Cohen’s choreography blend Indian and Western dance forms, creating composition with dancers like Ran Ben Dror and Noah Shilloh, who are Israeli. Ankita Dutta Gupta and Koushik Das belong to Sapphire. Cohen used no recorded music or instruments. Instead, he employed human sound and body language. The posters included one of Monroe’s show in India before Independence.

    Another relating to Sharmila Tagore is connected to Hollywood. There are three on Bose.

    One depicted Israel before Independence. Then 1967 war. And its borders changing in 2000. “I’m trying to integrate borders of body and land, that result from desire. Someone wants to be slim. Someone else wants to be fair and use make-up and accessories. The result is division among nations, due to political ambitions and desires that arise, creating boundaries and wars.”


    Cohen added, “This is my second year. The audience for a dance fest in India is huge and varied, unlike Israel.” INTERFACE 2012 will be held in Bengaluru between September 28-30. The festival kickstarted in 2002. Veteran dancers and choreographers like Geeta Chandran and Aruna Mohanty will also present performances.



    Israeli dancer’s Holi with a twist
    Barsali Bhattacharyya

    28 September 2012 

    IT ISN’T the culture of his country that Israeli dancer and choreographer Idan Cohen wishes to showcase through his works, but the people who keep that culture alive. In the city with fellow dancers Ran Ben Dror and Noa Shiloh, Cohen teamed up with Kolkata- based Sapphire Creations, a contemporary dance group rooted in the Indian classical tradition, to do what he does best — he bridged mythology and contemporary life in the production named Holi , which he presented this past Wednesday at the India Habitat Centre.
    Holi , Cohen explains, has been inspired by “ the tale of a young Krishna, jealous of the fairskinned Radha, seeking permission from mother Yashodhara to sprinkle colour on her”. Building his composition on this story, Cohen chooses to reflect on people’s tendency to manipulate their appearances to resemble those whom they idolise. “ Dancers on stage wear heels to increase their height, or makeup to modify their looks,” says Cohen.

    “ So I started with our own people, asking them about the appearance they wished to change.” My Sweet Little Fur was Cohen’s other production for the Delhi audience. It had won the first prize at the Solo Tanz Theatre Festival in Stuttgart, Germany.

    Cohen owes his love for dance and theatre to his kibbutz , which was inspiring for budding artists.

    “ We’ll perform the Mad Siren in the United States soon,” he says.
    “ Next year, we’ll take new performances to Brazil, Poland and Singapore.” Now it’s time for him to imbibe as much as he can from India, starting of course with an introduction to Bollywood via Raaz 3. He just can’t stop talking about it.

    When Sharmila Tagore Met Marilyn Monroe
    Pallavi Chattopadhyay 
    Sat Sep 29 2012

    An eye-grabbing poster of Marilyn Monroe, with a pre-Independence map of India drawn over her face, and another beautiful poster of Sharmila Tagore brought together Hollywood and Bollywood on stage at the India Habitat Centre earlier this week. Between them was placed a painting of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, over which three maps of Israel were drawn. This setting was part of a dance theatre performance called Holi, which aimed to depict how the body’s everyday struggles are similar to that for land and territory.

    Noted Israeli choreographer Idan Cohen, who collaborated with Kolkata-based Sapphire Creations for the act, said, “I have tried to depict how our body is constantly being bullied to look fair, beautiful, slim and acceptable in the society, in the same way national boundaries are being occupied and terrorised.” This performance was part of the two-day theatre dance festival called International Festival of Alternative and Contemporary Expressions (INTERFACE 2012) in the Capital, which had an interesting line-up of dancers and choreographers from Australia, Israel and Taiwan, besides India.

    Pointing out that there is a recent demand in Bollywood for fair-skinned female actors, Cohen said, “I chose Monroe and Tagore because they were childhood idols of the two female performers.” My sweet little fur, another solo piece choreographed by Cohen, delved into the feelings of isolation through the story of a man who is crying for freedom. “The inspiration for this comes from my growing-up years at the kibbutz, an isolated community based on agriculture. There, I often felt like breaking free and going wild,” he explained.

    There was also an act called Game on, in which contemporary dancer Miranda Wheen tried dancing to the beats of the tabla being played by Australian artiste Bobby Singh. Both of them successfully brought about a fusion of contemporary dance and classical beats. The second day saw Seasons, a Bharatanatayam performance where Geeta Chandran and dancers from Natya Vriksha Dance Company danced to Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s music, with an aim to depict the different seasons of summer, autumn and spring.