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From Dream to Reality: Israeli Dance
Dance Chronicle  (IF),  Pub Date : 2019-01-02, DOI: 10.1080/01472526.2019.1577056
Einav Rosenblit

In her book Dance Spreads Its Wings: Concert Dance in Israel, 1920–2000, dance researcher Ruth Eshel shares the history of Israeli dance from its early twentieth-century origins, through examinations of its artistic tendencies over time. Sources of inspiration for this dance came from without and within Israel’s borders: Eshel examines how outside influences were woven into the local fabric and brings to life, as well, the obstacles confronting the development of this young Israeli art. She reveals, with abundant details, the companies, artists, and aesthetic trends that have characterized Israeli dance. This book fills a critical gap both because no such comprehensive book on the topic has yet appeared and because Eshel’s work reveals the fascinations of an Israeli art genre, born only at the beginning of the twentieth century, that today has become a leading force in the dance worldwide. Ruth Eshel, now aged seventy-five, is a dance researcher, choreographer, and dancer. She was the first in Israel to publish wide-ranging books on dance and was also renowned as an important groundbreaker in the experimental language of Israeli alternative dance. When asked in an interview how she saw her role as a dance critic, she responded, “As a vision and as a mission. The language of movement was always the most important in my eyes—I wasn’t interested in the story behind the dance. I came as an avant-garde choreographer, who was looking for refreshing things.” As in her critical writing, Eshel’s writing in Dance Spreads Its Wings is marked by a rigorous search for words to express the movement language she is discussing in as fresh, tangible, and unmediated a manner as possible. Eshel examines her subject from two perspectives: that of a veteran researcher providing an overview of the historical processes and trends in Israeli dance since its inception, and that of a dancer and creator in her own right, participating in the most significant dance movements in Israel. The book also contains rare photographs from exciting and important