Filed under: Art, General, History and Culture, Israeliness, Pop Culture, Profiles
With all the talk in recent years about Israeli popular music exports, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of Israeli entertainers in other realms who have been enjoying growing successes overseas. The world over, there are plenty of Israeli illusionists, dub bassists, jazz saxophonists, supermodels and even boxers - you name it.
When the percussive Mayumana dance troupe got started 13 years ago, many dismissed it as a local knockoff of international sensation Stomp. Now the ensemble maintains a busy schedule touring worldwide. Today Mayumana employs 100 people globally and has starred in ads for brands like Fiat and Coca Cola. Last week, the ensemble premiered Momentum, its new show, for local audiences of thousands at the Jerusalem Theater, under the framework of the Israel Festival.
Ha’aretz recently interviewed Tel Aviv-born Mayumana co-founder Boaz Berman as well as producer Roy Ofer, who joined the team shortly after its launch.
Ofer believes that the key to Mayumana’s success has been the way that he makes sure to keep things in-house:
“We have our own people who we work with, and we rarely involve people from the outside. On tours abroad, we have our own way of doing things. We don’t just perform and leave. We performed in Madrid for eight months, we were in New York for six months, and so on.”
Berman, meanwhile, remembers the early days fondly:
“Our goal was to put on a show that would be different from anything else out there. We were so fired up that we were sure we’d succeed. The people who worked with us then did it for free, because they all believed in us. We worked all day every day, and when we had enough material we started doing open presentations to friends on Wednesdays, which evolved from week to week.”
But according to Ofer, it’s unfair to call Mayumana a “troupe,” when so much more comes into the performances:
“In a troupe, the members all do one specific thing – dancing or drumming or whatever,” Berman explains fervently. “With us, everyone does everything, even though on the face of it they’re completely disparate – one is a professional dancer, another is the national archery champion, another one’s an actor, this one’s a contortionist. Our job is to unite them. It’s a group of people, not a troupe.”
Hey, man. Whatever terminology you prefer. Just keep doing whatever it is that you want to call what you’re doing, because people seem to like it.
Israel has a tremendous amount of Israel exports but among the most successful is Israeli metal. Israeli bands have actually created a sub genre of metal called “oriental metal.” The most notable is Orphaned Land, a doom metal act whose lyrics consist of biblical allusions and are sang over a sonic bed of undeniable metal amalgamated with Middle Eastern sounds using traditional folk instruments. Other bands such as groove metal bandBetzefer have also received critical accolades abroad and are garnering fans throughout the world.
Recently Israeli-band, The Fading won the first place in Germany’s Wacken Open Air music festival, the world’s most popular metal festival, after beating 15 other bands from all over the world.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” lead vocalist Ilia Badrov told Ynet. “Our excitement is huge, we’re still unable to digest it.” The second place went to the band representing Poland, followed by Greece. The Fading won a record and performance deal with international company ICS, and received musical instruments from the competition’s sponsors and invitations to take part in future metal music festivals in Europe. The battle was held Friday, and the Israeli representative was declared the winner in a press conference held Saturday evening. Upon the announcement, the band was surrounded by dozens of reporters from rock and metal magazines worldwide.
The Israeli metal scene will be getting even more attention soon when the the follow up to “A Headbanger’s Journey” a documentary is released later this year. The movie chronicled the history of metal and the second movie, Global Metal, focuses on how metal flourishes throughout the world – including Israel.