Israel rings in 2019 with festival of Canadian dance

The CanaDanse Festival is the first to exclusively showcase Canadian talent in Israel. (Cara Trench photo)

Dancers from the Great White North are set to take Israel by storm this month, as the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre and the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv host CanaDanse, a first-of-its-kind festival of Canadian dance.

In honour of its 30th anniversary, the Suzanne Dellal Centre, Tel Aviv’s international hub for contemporary dance, is opening its doors to three of Canada’s top-tier dance companies –Ballet BC, Radical System Art and Le Carré des Lombes – for the week-long festival.

While Israel has welcomed a host of Canadian dance companies over the decades (Marie Chouinard, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Daniel Léveillé, to name a few), the upcoming CanaDanse festival is the first to exclusively showcase Canadian talent.

“I could not be more excited to be a part of this monumental moment,” says participating choreographer Shay Kuebler, founder of the Vancouver-based dance company Radical System Art. Kuebler’s company is an offshoot of martial arts theory and contemporary dance, which sets out to celebrate both form and formlessness.

In moving to British Columbia at the age of 19, the Alberta native first got to know Israel’s colourful cast of dancers and choreographers at Vancouver’s annual Chutzpah! Festival.

“The collaborative festival celebrates Israeli artists and Jewish culture, as well as Canadian artists,” Kuebler explains. “I was fortunate to be part of an event that brings in so many dancers from Israel and around the world. It exposed me to the artists and the art form being created there.”

Not only did Chutzpah! introduce the young choreographer to “a nice crossover” of cultures, it also introduced him to the festival’s artistic director, Mary-Louise Albert. Albert played an essential role in Kuebler’s rising success, offering his company theatre space for a second appearance at Chutzpah! and support at a pivotal time in his career, ultimately fuelling a desire to maintain a growing relationship with Israel and its contemporary dance community.

“I would love to keep this connection strong,” Kuebler says. Israel “is one of the hotbeds of contemporary dance right now. There are a lot of strong dancers and works coming out of the country. For us … being able to work, perform and create internationally also offers more life for not only the works we are creating, but also for the artists.”


Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, the work that Kuebler has chosen to perform at the upcoming CanaDanse festival, “Telemetry,” was co-produced with the Chutzpah! Festival, where it made its debut.

“It’s been a gift to be able to perform ‘Telemetry’ so many times, because the life of the show changes every time it is performed,” says Kuebler.

In light of CanaDanse, the choreographer has just finished making some minor tweaks to “Telemetry,” based on what he “picked up on from the audience” during his recent cross-Canada tour.

“The whole company is excited for this trip (to Israel),” Kuebler says. “Being able to showcase our work in Canada allows for reception from one audience. Going abroad, especially to some place like Israel, gives us a very different feeling of audience reception. Their culture of going to see dance shows and music is so different than ours. There are a lot of unknowns and also a lot of potential positives to look forward to.”


CanaDanse will take place at Tel Aviv’s Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre from Jan. 11-17. For more information, visit