Contemporary choreographer Hillel Kogan creates on the line between dance and theater. His works combine existing movement, text and objects / sound into a visual language that navigates itself wisely and wittingly between subtle and explicit statements about the world of dance, popular culture and contemporary society.
The subjects of Kogan’s artistic exploration are recognizable and almost archetypal ‘dance personalities’: Contemporary choreographers struggling with the creative process (what now), Dancers Reflecting on Dance (Dancer is the Answer), The symbolic ‘other’ Arab within an ‘Israeli’ dance piece (Arab lovers) And a young and ‘swan’ dancer who works with an older choreographer (the swan and the pimp). These ‘every man’ (or woman) images move and think in the present but frequently meet with their dance heritage and with a set of cultural icons – from jazz music and hummus, to Star of David or Baguette.
These images serve the practice that Kogan applies to expose the ideological in the aesthetic, while acknowledging the existing hierarchies of age, gender and ethnicity, and eventually, dominate the dance and cultural arenas.
Kogan uses – and consciously exploits – these power systems in his works, only to dismantle them through literary and theatrical mechanisms such as irony and parody, alienation and intertextuality. Thus, to question their validity as standards and criteria of dance and creation at this present point in time.
As a result, Hillel Kogan’s works reveal dance not only as an artistic language, but also as a site of constructing meaning, defining categories and establishing norms, in which the dancing body – which is always in some degree of conflict – illuminates in its presence insights into what is perceived as worthy, beautiful, cool and interesting in dance and society.
This unique form of dance discourse developed by Hillel Kogan embodies his reflexive stance, which can be defined as meta-dance: Exploring the artistic codes, theatrical conventions and visual images recognized as a channel for fulfilling critical thinking regarding the choreographer’s work, the nuances of the creative process and the relationship between the performer and the spectator – which are always based on traditional, and sometimes even conservative – expectations.
Dr Idit Suslik
Dance and performance researcher
Awarded the 2015 Israel National Lottery art council- Landau Prize, winner of the Israel Critics’ Circle’s Outstanding Choreographer of 2013, was named the 2014 Promising Choreographer by European magazine Tanz, awarded the 2010 Yair Shapira Prize, the in 2009 Teva Prize in dance and named the 1999 Promising Choreographer by European magazine Tanz.
Graduated from Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts’ Theater Department. Studied Dance at Kfar Saba Conservatory, Bikurey Ha’Itim Dance school, The Bat Dor Dance Studio and the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York City, supported by fellowships from the America Israel Cultural Foundation.
Performed as a member of Bikurey Machol Youth Company (1990), The Batsheva Ensemble (1995-6), Nomades Dance Company in Switzerland (1996-8) and the Gulbenkian Ballet in Portugal (1999-2005).
Since his first created piece in 1996 for the Batsheva Ensemble, and until 2005, Hillel Kogan created short dance pieces for the National Ballet of Portugal (1999), Muza Dance Company (1999) Shades in Dance and more.
Sine 2005 Hillel Kogan function as assistant to choreographer Ohad Naharin, Batsheva Ensemble and international companies, alongside working in the local and international dance arena as an independent choreographer, and as a member of the Choreographers’ Association since 2009.
He created “Taki Take 1” (2006, co-production with Inbal Yaacobi and Yossi Berg), “After the Bolero” (2007), “Everything” (2009), “Obscene Gesture” (2001) for various Curtain Up events. He created “Rite of Spring” (2011) and “We Love Arabs” (2013) for Intimadance Festival at Tmu-Na Theater.
His work “We Love Arab” won him awards in Israel and internationally. He continues to perform with this work, throughout Israel and internationally In New York, Melbourne, Paris, Munich, Barcelona, Quebec, Budapest, Prague, Rome and more. Kogan performs “We Love Arab” in four different versions: Hebrew, English, Spanish and French.
In 2017 he created “The Swan and the Pimp” and in 2018 “Star and Dust” for Ballet du Capitole in Toulouse, France. In 2019 he created “What Now” and “Dancer is the Answer” for Bodhi Project – SEAD in Salzburg.
In the Israeli dance scene, Hillel has collaborated as a dancer, as a co-creator, and as a dramaturg, with Renana Raz, Dana Ruttenberg, Yossi Berg and Oded Graf and more, and also performed as a guest dancer with the Batsheva dance company.
Hillel teaches GAGA, a repertoire of his and other works, and contemporary dance performance, both as an assistant to Ohad Naharin and as an independent choreographer. He taught in Carte Blanche Company in Norway, Gaultier Dance company in Germany, I.T. Dansa Company in Spain, Strut Dance Company in Australia and other dance companies.
As part of the Batsheva dance company between 2005-2016, Hillel functioned as rehearsal director of the Batsheva Ensemble and the young company. Currently he directs the educational programs and the ‘Batsheva hosts’ performances program. He teaches a dance performance course for the MA program at Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
Hillel Kogan has written articles in the field of dance, which he published in the HAMA’AKAF dance, performance and visual theater online journal, and in the Israeli dance quarterly Dance Now.