Israeli choreographer expresses sadness over Ballet Ireland axing – The Irish Times

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The Israeli choreographer who had one of his pieces pulled from an event organised by Ballet Ireland has expressed disappointment at the decision and said if he believed it would help the Palestinian people, he would “boycott my own show”.

Earlier this month, Ballet Ireland announced 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 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 came after opposition to the performance had been voiced by members of Ireland’s dance community under the Apartheid-Free Dance banner.

It claimed Mr Naharin was “complicit” in a campaign of “art-washing” by Israel and said he had “accepted funding from the Israeli government for his entire career”.

However, in response to queries from The Irish Times, Mr Naharin said he had been dismayed and saddened by the decision.

“From the abyss of my sadness witnessing the ongoing catastrophe in our region I am writing to you,” he said. “If the act of cancellation would have helped the Palestinians cause I would boycott my own show”.

He suggested it was “obvious that this cancellation does nothing to help reduce the suffering of people in our region and/or to reduce anger and frustration of the people in Ireland over the wrongdoing of the Israeli government and army in the Gaza Strip.”

He expressed the view that “artistic expression is what gives balance to our lives” and said in the face of “evil forces, abuse of power and so many innocent victims over the course of history artistic expression always stood as a pillar that gave meaning to people’s lives. Therefore I find this cancellation disappointing.”

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