“inbal,” Yemenite Troupe, Scores Great Success in New York Premiere

Inbal, the Israel Yemenite Dance Theatre, was acclaimed by American critics today as a “wonderfully creative” dance group following its premiere last night at the Martin Beck Theatre here. A distinguished audience of diplomats, United Nations officials, and the elite of the American dance world warmly applauded the Israel ensemble. Inbal will stay three weeks in New York, then set out on a three-month tour of other cities in the United States and Canada.

New York Times dance critic John Martin, reviewing last night’s performance, said “it proved to be a rich and rare treat.” Emphasizing that “nothing remotely like it has been seen in these parts before,” the critic wrote that “a breath of revivifying fresh air seems to have swept into the Martin Beck theatre.”

Lauding the artistic direction of Sarah Levi-Tanai, the New York Times critic found that “some of the movement of the Inbal dancers is markedly Oriental, some of it has the stamp of Africa upon it, and a great deal of it is apparently the result of highly sensitive improvisation. But for all its diversity, it has a unity of style that gives it the unmistakable mark of a truly creative artistic organization.”

The New York Herald Tribune’s critic, Walter Terry, described the Inbal performance as “brilliantly recreating the ecstatic dances of the ancient Israelites” and that the Yemenite dancing group had “generated true excitement” by communicating to another age the ancient ecstasy of dancing.

“All of the performers,” the reviewer wrote “are splendid. Their vitality alone is enough to make one jump out of his seat. And so also are the colorful costumes, the effective settings, the expert (well, its very modern but pertinent) lighting and the musical arrangements of ancient airs. Special gratitude for this event must go to Mrs. Levi-Tanai, the creator of Inbal; to Jerome Robbins and Anne Sokolow two American choregraphers, who provided the dancers with technical and theatrical disciplines but no artistic interferences.”

The New York Post dance critic, lauding Inbal’s premiere, said: “Sara Levi-Tanai, who organized the group of Yemenite Jews 10 years ago, has done a brilliant job of adapting her material and training the troupe. The vocabulary they have developed shows the effects of their central geography. They have the strong rhythms and jumps of the African dance, but tempered by the more sinuous arm and torso movements of the Orient.

“Their voices suggest at times the weird sing-song of the Kabuki, their use of flutes and gongs are like the Hindus, “the reviewer continued. “But their unbounded energy, the sheer joy with which they move, and their warm communication with each other are almost unique. Outstanding among them is Margalith Oved for her dramatic voice and dancing, and Hadassah Bedoch, whose sensualness is like quicksilver.”

The New York World-Telegram critic said of the dancing: “This is truly a band of artists, wholly absorbed in their work of fostering native lore and original in devising a technique and style utterly suited to the ancient legacy that is theirs. All dance theaters can learn from Inbal. They can learn, for instance, that singing and declaiming properly keyed to the basic rhythms of motion, enhance and enrich the appeal of dance.

The Inbal Group is presented by S. Hurok, under the auspices of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.

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