Ballet Ireland pulls dance piece over Israel links – The Irish Times

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Ballet Ireland has dropped one of three pieces it was due to perform in Dublin later this month over the involvement of an Israeli choreographer in the work.

In a statement released on Wednesday it said it was withdrawing the Minus 16 piece from the Bold Moves 2024 programme which is taking place in the O’Reilly Theatre in Dublin from March 22nd to March 30th.

The piece was originally choreographed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin for Nederlands Dans Theater in 1999 and has been performed internationally over the last quarter of a century by a wide range of dance companies.

“We stand by the right to freedom of artistic expression, and despite our belief that art should not be drawn into politics, we feel the time is not right to be performing this work,” said Anne Maher, artistic director and chief executive officer of Ballet Ireland.

“Our programming is done well in advance of the performance dates. In this instance, Minus 16 was independently licensed directly from Mr Naharin in 2019 and programmed for Bold Moves 2024 long before the current conflict in Gaza began. We are sensitive to the fact that the situation is very different now.”

The move comes after opposition to the performance had been voiced by members of Ireland’s dance community under the Apartheid Free Dance banner.

Calling for solidarity with Palestine and an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the group said it was “deeply troubling that Ballet Ireland intends to present Minus 16, a work choreographed by Ohad Naharin, an Israeli-state-funded choreographer, in their upcoming Bold Moves programme”.

It claims Mr Naharin is “complicit” in a campaign of “artwashing” by Israel and says he has “accepted funding from the Israeli government for his entire career”.

In a statement posted on social media after the Ballet Ireland announcement, the group said it “warmly welcomes” the “courageous decision to remove Minus 16 from their programme. We acknowledge the complexity of changing their programme at short notice and we applaud them for it. We wish them a successful run and encourage everyone to support the arts by buying a ticket. We also wish to thank everyone who tirelessly participated in this campaign. Activism is essential and it works.”

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