Berta Yampolski, Hillel Markman
Le Ballet d'Israel
The Israel ballet
Le Ballet d'Israël est la seule compagnie Israélienne qui
présente des grands ballets classiques et néo-classiques du
répertoire international. Il a été fondé en 1967 par Berta
Yampolsky et Hillel Markman, directeurs artistiques de la
compagnie jusqu'à nos jours.
La première représentation de la compagnie a eu lieu le 25
Janvier 1967 au cinéma Rina, a Holon. Les danseurs etoiles,
Berta Yampolsky et Hillel Markman, ainsi que quatre jeunes
danseurs, ont interprete des extraits de ballets célèbres.
En 1975, le célèbre chorégraphe George Balanchine a
accordé au Ballet d'Israël l'autorisation de monter son ballet
"Sérénade". Cette reconnaissance, implicite dans son
consentement, fut un pas de géant pour la compagnie, la
dotant d'un statut international. Six ans plus tard, après avoir
vu une représentation de "Sérénade" par la compagnie à New
York, Balanchine a annoncé, à la grande joie des danseurs,
qu'il accorderait au Ballet d'Israël l'autorisation d'exécuter
ses œuvres gratuitement. Depuis, la compagnie a monté
plusieurs ballets de Balanchine, entre autres - "Concerto
Barocco», «Danse en Carre », «La Valse», «Les Quatre
Tempéraments» et «Symphonie en Do".
Le Ballet d'Israël a un répertoire riche et varié et au dela des
œuvres néo-classiques célèbres de George Balanchine, il se
produit dans des ballets classiques tels que "Casse-noisette",
"La Belle au Bois Dormant", "Cendrillon", "Onéguine" ,
"Romeo et Juliette", "Don Quichotte" et "Giselle", et dans
des créations modernes de chorégraphes tels que Christian
Spuck, Krzysztof Pastor, Rudi van Dantzig, Jan Lincoln et Lar
Lubovitch, dont plusieurs ont créé des œuvres originales pour
Le Ballet d'Israël est fier des créations originales de sa
fondatrice et directrice artistique. Berta Yampolsky a créé
jusqu'a ce jour plus de 30 ballets pour le Ballet d'Israël: de
nouvelles choreographies et productions de ballets classiques
comme "Casse-noisette» et «La Belle au bois dormant», et de
nombreuses nouvelles créations chorégraphiques très
acclamées par la critique. Pour n'en citer que quelques-unes -
"Sans titre", "Extase", "Deux par deux et tout le monde
ensemble", "Ecrit dans le sable","Gurrelieder", "Optimus" et
Aujourd'hui, le Ballet d'Israël est une compagnie formée de
danseurs venus du monde entier, des danseurs nés en Israël,
des nouveaux immigrants de l'ancienne Union Soviétique et
des invités sélectionnés sur audition.
En 2000, le Ballet d'Israël a reçu le Prix du Ministre de la
Culture, récompensant le haut niveau artistique et technique
des danseurs de la compagnie.
Depuis sa création, le Ballet d'Israël a participé à des festivals
de premier plan dans le monde entier, apportant
reconnaissance et honneur à l'État d'Israël.
La compagnie a effectué des tournées en Amérique, la
première aux États-Unis en 1977, puis deux nouvelles
tournées la conduisant aussi en Argentine et au Chili. Les
danseurs y ont été salués avec enthousiasme d'une cote à
En 1999, peu de temps après le rétablissement des relations
diplomatiques avec la Chine, le Ballet d'Israël est venu à
Beijing à l'invitation du Ministère Chinois de la Culture.
Quatre ans plus tard la compagnie a été invitée a nouveau
pour effectuer une tournée dans toute la République
De même, le Ballet d'Israël a été applaudi en Turquie, en
Finlande, en Allemagne, en Autriche, au Royaume-Uni, a
Malte, en Hongrie et en Italie.
Afin de former le public de l'avenir, la compagnie présente
dans tout le pays des spectacles destinés aux élèves, aux jeunes
et aux soldats en faction.
Le Centre de Ballet Classique d'Israël
Au cours de l'été 2004, trente-sept ans après sa fondation, la
compagnie a officiellement ouvert son propre institut dans le
centre de Tel Aviv, Le Centre de Ballet Classique d'Israël. Ce
Centre comprend aussi l'école de ballet classique la plus
importante Israël, l'école officielle du Ballet d'Israël. Il a été
construit avec l'aide de généreux donateurs ainsi que les aides
du ministère de l'Education, la Culture et des Sports et de la
municipalité de Tel-Aviv - Yafo.
Ce nouveau complexe est situé au 4, rue Har Nevo, dans le
quartier "Basel" de Tel-Aviv, l'une des zones de loisirs
animées près du centre ville.
L'installation abrite deux studios: le principal, de 18x21
mètres, est le plus grand studio de ballet dans le pays; l'autre
est un peu plus petit. Le studio principal contient des
équipements d'éclairage et de sonorisation très modernes ainsi
qu'une galerie de 300 places. Cet équipement permet à la
compagnie de donner des spectacles, ainsi que de répéter dans
le studio principal. D'autres installations du Centre
comprennent de beaux vestiaires et des douches pour les
artistes et les étudiants, une salle verte pour les loisirs, les
bureaux de la compagnie, une salle de réunion et des ateliers
En 1970, le Centre du Ballet d'Israël, avait ouvert ses portes
dans un petit studio dans un bâtiment situé sur la place
Hamedina à Tel-Aviv. L'école s'est développée au fil des ans
et est devenue l'école de choix pour l'étude du ballet classique
en Israël. Apres avoir emménagé dans le nouveau centre en
2004, l'école de ballet a pu développer ses activités et
organiser des cours tous les jours, notamment l' après-midi et
le soir. Aujourd'hui, de nombreux élèves, dès l'âge de 7 ans,
apprennent avec les meilleurs professeurs d'Israël et de
Le Centre offre des leçons pour les élèves qui tiennent
simplement à apprendre les secrets de l'art du ballet classique,
pour ceux qui veulent faire du ballet leur carrière, ainsi que
pour les professionnels qui cherchent à améliorer leurs
compétences. Les classes sont divisées selon leur âge et leur
capacités. De nombreux anciens élèves du Centre de Ballet
Classique ont continué à danser comme solistes avec le Ballet
d'Israël tandis que d'autres ont trouvé un foyer dans les
compagnies de danse en Europe et en Amérique
Les créations de Berta Yampolsky
1974 Variations Symphoniques
1978 Introduction au Ballet
1978 La Maison de Bernarda Alba
1981 Variations Dvorak
1982 Concerto de Mendelssohn
1983 Sans titre
1983 Opus 1
1987 La Belle au Bois Dormant
1989 Deux par deux et tout le monde ensemble
1991 Roméo et Juliette
1992 Méphisto Valse
1994 Gurrelieder Gurrelieder
1997 Extase Xta Ecstasy
2003 Optimus 2003 Optimus
2004 Du `O
2005 Ecrit dans le Sable Written in the sand
Berta Yampolski, Hillel Markman
Berta Yampolsky est née à Paris, de parents sionistes d'origine
Russe. Sa famille a immigré en Israël quand elle avait deux
ans et s'est installée à Haïfa. À l'âge de 14 ans, elle a
commencé à étudier le ballet dans un studio de la ville.
Hillel Markman est né à Haïfa, aussi de parents originaires
de Russie. Markman, sportif de talent, a découvert son
amour de la danse classique pendant son service militaire
dans la marine; il a commencé à étudier cet art et a
continué alors qu'il étudiait au Technion, l'Institut de
Technologie d'Israël. Son père n'était pas très ravi de l'amour
de son fils pour la danse, et espérait qu'il terminerait ses
Yampolsky et Markman se sont rencontrés au studio de ballet
et trois ans après leur modeste cérémonie de mariage, ils sont
partis pour l'Angleterre. En Angleterre, ils ont étudié le ballet
pendant trois ans; Yampolsky à la "Royal Ballet School" et
Markman à la "Rambert School". Au cours de cette période,
ils ont également pris des cours de ballet avec des professeurs
renommés comme Kathleen Crofton, Cleo Nordi et Tania
Tamarova, d'anciens danseurs remarquables de la
Compagnie d'Anna Pavlova et du Ballet Russe de Monte
Yampolsky, était déjà apparue avec Markman dès le début de
sa carrière comme première étoile dans de nombreuses
compagnies à travers le monde dont la France, la Suisse, la
Belgique et les États-Unis.
En 1964, en dépit de leur grand succès et de leur futur assure
à l'étranger, l'amour de leur maison les a ramenés en Israël
ou ils sont devenus les premiers danseurs de l'Opéra d'Israël.
En 1967 Yampolsky et Markman ont fondé un groupe appelé
«Le Ballet Classique de Holon" et joué pour la première fois
le 25 Janvier au cinéma Rina a Holon. Parmi les œuvres
présentées ce soir-là, il y avait plusieurs pas de deux classiques
célèbres. Depuis ces débuts, ce groupe de six danseurs de
ballet est devenu l'une des institutions culturelles les plus
importantes en Israël aujourd'hui.
En 1970, le couple a ouvert The Classical Ballet Center,
l'école officielle du Ballet d'Israël, qui au fil des ans est
devenue la principale école en Israël pour l'étude de l'art du
Jusqu'à ce jour, Yampolsky reste la directrice artistique et la
chorégraphe du Ballet d'Israël, Elle a monte plus de 30
créations originales, telles que des nouvelles productions de
ballets classiques célèbres: "Casse-noisette» et «La Belle au
Bois Dormant" sur une musique de Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski.
Yampolsky a aussi chorégraphié de nombreuses œuvres
contemporaines comme "Dancing" (1986) "Gurrelieder"
(1996), "Extase" (1998), «Médée» (1999), "Ecrit dans le
sable" (2005) et "Optimus" ( 2003). D'après les critiques, son
style néo-classique se caractérise par son brillant et son
esthétique, qui exigent des danseurs un haut niveau artistique
et une grande technique d'interprétation
Yampolsky a reçu de nombreux prix, dont le Prix de la
Critique pour le meilleur chorégraphe "étranger" (1981), à
Santiago, au Chili, pour son ballet " Variations Dvorak» et du
Ministre de l'Education, de la Culture et des Sports pour ses
réalisations au cours de sa carrière(1999). Le comité des
juges a écrit la citation suivante: «Ce prix témoigne de
l'admiration et de l'appréciation des citoyens d'Israël à Berta
Yampolsky pour sa grande contribution à l'art de la danse en
Strictly come dancing
By Naama Lanski
At midday in the Israel Ballet's studio, five of the troupe's dancers stretch their lithe bodies on the
light parquet floor. Opposite them sits Berta Yampolsky, the founder of the ballet, stern,
straight-backed, her hair combed close to her skull.
"Look at that one," she hisses in a whisper, referring to one of the dancers who is lifting her long
legs. "I'm personally grooming her. Everyone tells me she's a klutz, the other dancers want to
break her legs. But I tell her: 'Listen to me. Only to me. You're great. If they clap their hands after
you do your solo, you'll know that you were bad. If they remain silent and step aside you can be
sure you were wonderful. 'They are crazy with envy."
Are your dancers so wicked?
"The envy in ballet is terrible. It affects their health. Sometimes I think they're about to murder
one another because of a role. The men are able to restrain themselves, but for the women, it
destroys their lives. They incite, form cliques. Women in general are witches."
This week Yampolsky and her husband, Hillel Markman, are celebrating 40 years of activity of the
Israel Ballet troupe, which they established. The debut performance of the ballet took place at the
Rina cinema in Holon on January 25, 1967, and since then Yampolsky and Markman have raised
generations of excellent dancers, who are all quarrelsome to some degree. Thanks to the two of
them, Israel has professional classical ballet that preserves a 19th-century repertoire, alongside
contemporary dances created by Yampolsky.
In spite of this tremendous achievement, things are difficult for Berta. Very difficult. Even totally
innocent questions, such as 'Where's the sugar?' and 'How are you today?' elicit a flow of
complaints from her. Managing a troupe of about 35 dancers is an exhausting task, she says.
"A dancer is the most exploitative, the most spoiled, the most egotistical type of person, and if you
don't keep him on a short leash he'll grab you by the neck. Dancers think only about themselves.
Never ask a dancer how he feels. Something always hurts him, he's always bitter, he's never
happy. They work very hard, in the most demanding profession, and they miss out on a great part
What, for example?
"Even making love. They're young, bursting with hormones, and when they make love all night
they come to me to rehearsals and they can't move. More than once I tell them 'Not too much
lovemaking tonight,' as though in jest, but actually in all seriousness."
Afterwards she admits that in this case, but only in this case, they don't listen to her. "Because
they're closed into the company of the troupe, involved with one other, everything happens here.
Marriages, separations, stealing partners. And when we travel abroad - oho - at night I don't know
who's sleeping in whose room."
The sex habits of the dancers are not the problem. During all the years of its existence, Yampolsky,
Markman and their troupe have been dealing with the cultural establishment's limited support and
lack of interest in the classical art. "They've always looked at us as a pair of crazies who are
preoccupied with something anachronistic," says Yampolsky angrily. "We've been marching alone
all the way. Countless times over the years we have found ourselves simply begging for money. We
have survived thanks to our audience and thanks to the fact that we believed that the next month
would be better. Money arrives late and we have no way of paying the dancers' salaries. Hillel and
I wake up in the middle of the night and start wandering around the house worrying about how
we'll pay our people."
Markman joins the conversation. "We were sure that as we developed and progressed, the State of
Israel would admire us and would support a classical ballet troupe that was established ex nihilo,"
he says. "Unfortunately, even today, with the exception of the audience in Israel and abroad,
nobody believes in the Israel Ballet. Year after year, we accumulate deficits. Up until two years
ago, we would be thrown from one gym to another. As though someone had decided that the noose
would tighten until we hanged ourselves."
Yampolsky: "In Israel they exalt only modern dance. Ohad Naharin is considered a god here. I
have no doubt that Israeli modern dancers are better than anywhere else in the world. We are the
modern Mecca, because this field has always been nurtured. Modern is the Israeli character. Our
men are macho, hunks, they have power, and that's good for modern dance. The Israelis are
vulgar, outspoken and impolite, and that's why modern suits us. They don't want to be prettified
The annual budget the troupe receives from the Ministry of Culture is NIS 3.9 million. The
troupe's deficit has increased almost to the dimensions of the budget. For the sake of comparison,
the budget of the Batsheva Dance Company is NIS 5.5 million, not including (generous) donations,
and the Kibbutz Dance Company gets NIS 4.7 million.
Of the three large dance troupes in Israel, the Israel Ballet receives the lowest budget, in spite of
the fact that its expenses are far greater - from toe shoes for the female dancers, which cost NIS
500 and must be replaced every few months, to the scenery for classical productions, which also
require dozens of dancers in each cast.
Accordingly, the dancers earn pathetic salaries - NIS 4,000 for six days of work each week and
sometimes even seven, depending on the number of performances. A veteran and popular soloist
who has reached the pinnacle, and for whom dance is his entire life, will earn between NIS 5,000
and NIS 7,000, if he bargains.
"For example, there's no such thing as money for living expenses," remarks Yampolsky. "And I
see how, when we travel to performances, the dancers think twice before buying themselves
something to drink at a kiosk."
"It's not so terrible. When I was their age and in their situation I thought very little about food. I
would buy a skirt for a dollar and a shirt for a dollar and look like a million dollars. That's an
advantage of young people that they should take advantage of. Look, I never in my life bargained
over my salary. My dancers bargain - and how. They have also learned the trick of a doctor's note.
I tell them: 'Don't do that. A doctor's note is no big deal, any doctor will give you one.' That way
they can rest at home for two weeks and have fun."
Maybe they're really sick?
"It's hard for me to allow that. I don't have enough dancers."
Her entire world
These tough expectations, which will be explained in detail, could be seen as unreasonable, if not
actually cruel, on Yampolsky's part, but that is how she has been running her own life for decades,
since she was 14, the age when she began to dance.
She was born in Paris, where her Russian-born parents, an engineer and a doctor, met, and she
has a sister who is five years her senior. "We came to Israel when I was 2 years old, and we lived
in poor conditions. We lived in a store on Shabazi Street in Tel Aviv. But my parents never
complained about a difficult financial situation. We ate little and we didn't complain that we
After several years the family moved to Haifa. Because Yampolsky suffered from a problem of
"crooked and sloping shoulders," as she puts it, her mother thought that dancing would straighten
her up and she registered for studies with Valentina Archipova, the Haifa ballet teacher in the
1950s. Her life changed forever.
"From the first lesson, it became my entire world, and I knew what I would do with my life.
Before that I would always walk around with the feeling that my life was empty. From that
moment, I felt sorry for anyone who didn't dance. I had several girlfriends, but I no longer
belonged, they no longer interested me."
She danced three times a week, "and the rest of the time I would wait for the lessons, pass the
studio and look at the closed door. The studio became my temple. A broken-down bomb shelter
that was always damp turned into the place I loved most in the world. I used to come an hour
before the lesson and wait for Archipova. When I saw her approaching with firm steps I would get
so excited, and she would pass me by without saying hello.
"I didn't expect her to pay attention to me, and like a little puppy I used to follow her, enjoying her
smell, although it was the smell of cigarettes. When the lesson was over I would sit and watch the
other lessons. I had great admiration for Archipova. The greatest honor was to clean the studio for
her free of charge. I was happy. Those were the only things that mattered to me."
"I wasn't a good student, and I hated going to school. The teachers didn't like me and I didn't like
them. Aside from that, I was closed within myself, troubled. I didn't find myself in my
environment, with my friends. I had nobody to talk to and there was nobody to ask me, 'Berta, how
are you, how are you feeling?' My mother didn't talk much. I know almost nothing about her.
Before going to sleep, I would ask her to tell me a story so she would read me some of Krylov's
Did your parents accept your new love?
"My father was not at all pleased. For him, a dancer was like a prostitute. When my mother
understood that this was really what I wanted to do, she gave me her blessing. Sometimes my
father forbade me to go to dance and she would convince him to let me. Look, ballet gave me my
life. Ballet and Hillel were and still are the only sources of happiness in my life."
She met Markman when she was 16. During his military service in the Israel Navy, he also
decided to take ballet lessons with Archipova. "He used to admire my long legs," she says, hiding
an embarrassed smile. "They always said that I had very nice legs and called me 'the sexy one.'
Hillel used to take me home after the lessons on his motorcycle. We had a love that I think is very
unusual. A nice and refined love, without groping. I had several suitors, but Hillel was different
from all of them, and also very handsome. He has always been the one who strengthened me,
directed me, supported me, and in effect he is also the one who really taught me how to dance."
She married him at the age of 18, in the shack of a rabbi in Bat Galim, "without anyone knowing
except our parents and our sisters." That, incidentally, is the latest point in her biography where
she is willing to mention her age. After that, the details are blurred, and Yampolsky, with
admirable cunning, refuses to give hints as to her age. On the other hand, she is very happy to
reveal her weight: 54 kilograms.
A new center
After their marriage, the two traveled to London and studied ballet at various schools, including
that of the Royal Ballet. Later, they danced in Paris, with the Opera Ballet of Antwerp, and in
Switzerland and New York as well.
"We could have had a very good life in the United States, and people would have heard about us
all over the world, had we done even half of what we do in Israel, but we decided to return to
Israel. I'm very Zionistic and patriotic."
At the beginning of their career, they performed together with the Israel Opera, alongside Placido
Domingo, among others, and in 1967 they established the troupe that was then called the Classical
Ballet. The troupe's first performances, which included Yampolsky, Markman and about four
other dancers, were held at the Rina theater in Holon. Their activity was funded by giving ballet
lessons all over the country.
The first significant achievement of the troupe came in 1975, when Georges Balanchine, one of the
great neoclassical choreographers, allowed them to perform some of his works, including
"Serenade," "Symphony in C" and "The Four Temperaments," free of charge. In 1978,
Yampolsky began to choreograph for lack of choice, after choreographer Hans Shperling canceled
his work with the troupe at the last moment. Since then she has created and reconstructed about 30
ballets, all of them classical and neoclassical. Only two years ago, after a great deal of wandering,
did the troupe receive its own center, in the "old north" of Tel Aviv. The cost of the impressive
center was $1,200,000 and most of the sum came from private donors, including Shari Arison.
Since the new center was built, Yampolsky "kisses the walls and strokes the marble," she says. At
the end of every work day she walks through the building and collects items that the dancers have
left behind or forgotten; anyone who wants his possessions back is fined NIS 3 per item. But that is
only one of her modest battles. Her major battle is against the weight of the dancers.
Kilograms of humiliation
On her way out of the spacious hall after another morning rehearsal, she passes a tiny dancer who
is secretly eating her lunch. Yampolsky identifies pasta shells covered with oil in the plastic
container, and in response makes a face. Closing the door, she is furious at the difficult sight. "I
have a weight problem here," she fumes. "There are heavy girls in the troupe, and I reprimand
them all the time. A classical ballerina must be fragile, pretty and aesthetic, period. They first of all
have to look good, and then to dance well. It insults the dance to see someone fat on stage. In
winter weather I come home and immediately want to eat. I know exactly what it's like, but I often
go to bed hungry. Maybe I'll take a rice cracker. They won't go to bed hungry. They don't have my
discipline. They say: 'I'll burn it off tomorrow.' If they had my discipline, they would go far. I eat
wisely" (cereal cooked in water, salad, fish, 10 nuts, three fruits and two cubes of bitter chocolate
How do you deal with this weight problem which, to tell the truth, is very hard to see?
"I call them aside, speak to them, ask: 'Tell me, when will you lose weight?' I can also slap them
and say: 'You're fat!' Usually I take away the roles from someone who has gained weight, give
them to someone else, and tell her: 'Until you lose weight you won't dance them.' I have also fired
some dancers who didn't lose weight. It bothers me very much. By the way, my male dancers have
to be just as careful. When they gain weight, it's more disgusting than in the women. I tell them
exactly what to eat. Meat, salad, yoghurt, two slices of bread a day, and they can eat some
chocolate for energy."
Isn't it dangerous? Over the years, you have had dancers in the troupe who suffered from anorexia
"That's true, and I definitely don't want anorexic women, skin and bones. I'm asking for very
reasonable things; I recently fired an anorexic dancer whom we told for months that she had to
"It's a matter of a kilo or two," says Wendy Lucking, the director of rehearsals and former soloist
of the troupe, who has been working with Yampolsky for 25 years. "Berta is much softer than she
used to be, and still she goes straight for the jugular: 'You look like an elephant.' All you can do is
go into a corner and cry. It's black or white, either you're fat or you're thin. Just as one small
mistake by a dancer and Berta says that she ruined the whole performance. It's part of the classical
Isn't it a terrible humiliation?
"During the periods when I gained weight, I felt that I no longer existed as far as she was
concerned. If someone gains weight, she simply stops using her. She's put on a back burner. It's a
very cruel and shallow world. We say that we're artists and all, but 'It's all about how we look.'"
The price of betrayal
During all her years of activity, Yampolsky has been saddled with a negative image, and is
portrayed as an inaccessible and unpleasant woman. It's not that she lacks a soft, caressing and
empathetic side; she simply hides it. She is aware of the damage. "My image is terrible. It is
affected by my name, and I have a terrible name, that of a fat Polish woman. Anyone who hears
my name expects me to have a galut [exile] mentality and to be old-fashioned. That Berta
Yampolsky blocked my entire access to the media."
Are you an unpleasant woman?
"In my job, I can't be nice to everyone, and maybe it's a good thing that people don't know I have
a soft side. I can't please everyone, and there's no shortage of occasions when I'm harsh and
outspoken. When my dancers work as they should, I say 'Nice, great'; when they don't, I have no
mercy. Maybe it's my wicked side, but it drives me crazy. If I see a performance and suddenly they
all look fat to me, I can't help going backstage and shouting at them: 'You're all as fat as cows.'"
One of the points at which Yampolsky's difficult nature is revealed is when dancers decide to leave
the troupe. "Anyone who tries to leave the profession or, God forbid, to travel abroad to look for
work knows in advance that the chances that Berta will ever speak to him again are slim," says a
female dancer who experienced that herself. "Berta sees it as a serious and unforgivable betrayal."
"Look, I'm a person who really likes to give, it makes me happy, but I'm afraid of betrayal,"
explains Yampolsky. "I want the dancers to have the decency to admit that they received everything
from me. After all, I can take any dancer with talent and turn him into a star. Every day I work
with a few young girls and train them for the troupe. Build them up. Give them my all, and it
makes no difference whether I'm tired or hungry. And in spite of all my giving, they turned their
back on me."
She remembers all of them. "There was a girl with whom I worked for years, from the age of 14,
and then full of chutzpah and venom, she turned against me. She incited the dancers against the
person who had been like a mother to her. There was a dancer who for years slept, ate and
showered in my house. She would go with me to the supermarket after rehearsals and I would buy
her whatever she wanted. One day I approached the dressing rooms and heard her talking about
me with the dancers in a very unpleasant way. Mocking me. I told her that it would take a long
time until I forgave her, but I would never forget. Two days later she flew to Paris. A flight she
had planned in advance, without telling me, without saying thank you to Berta. So that was that, I
turned the guest room that had been used by many dancers into a room for Pinchy (the small, very
old dog that Yampolsky and Markman take everywhere). Hillel opened my eyes. I will never let a
dancer into my house, because I'm naive, and in the end they hurt me."
Recently Yampolsky abandoned her protegee Roni Aflalo, who was the soloist in her work
"Written in Sand," in which she is raped on the beach. Aflalo, says Yampolsky, was her muse in
recent years, and nevertheless she preferred to audition for the second season of the television
reality show "Born to Dance."
During the first stages she was very popular, as expected, but a moment before the finalists were
chosen she was injured, and this week she will undergo a complex operation on her knees.
Yampolsky: "I told her that she was making a mistake. After all, it's only publicity, in order to get
into the gossip columns. Here Roni was a star. She already had an operation on one knee, and I
warned her that something bad would happen. Hillel actually anticipated that she wouldn't return
to us because she would be injured. I'm very sorry about it. This was a dancer with whom I
wanted to do everything."
Aflalo, 24, danced for six years with Yampolsky. Her injury, she emphasizes, actually happened
during a rehearsal with the Israel Ballet.
"After a year of deliberation, I applied for 'Born to Dance' because television interests me and I
wanted to experience it. In retrospect, I feel that God saved me from this show, because it isn't up
to my level of dancing. It's better for me to perform the solo 'Written in Sand' that Berta created
Will you be able to go back to dancing?
"Berta wants me to come back to the company. We have a special connection. She is very sensitive
to me, and I love and admire her. God willing, if the surgery and the long rehabilitation period are
successful, I'll go back to dancing, but in a slightly different way. It won't be simple with 10 screws
in my knees."
It may come as a surprise, but Yampolsky does not condemn "Born to Dance." She says, "People
on the show refer to classical ballet without having the shadow of an idea of what it is. It's also
odd to me that they made Ido Tadmor into the authority on dance. Ido is a lovely guy, handsome,
well spoken, but the level of his achievement speaks for itself. And the chairman of the jury is even
worse. Nevertheless, I watch the show. It has rhythm and energy, which TV viewers love."
Do you watch modern dance performances? Are you up to date with what is happening today?
"I have no time. My path in life is between the house and the studio and back."
"I have no room in life for hobbies, free time or friends. I'm totally inside ballet and I accept that.
I love to read, and that's why I don't go near books. If I start to read it will arouse my curiosity to
continue and will divert my thoughts to something that is not related to ballet, and then I'll have
terrible guilt feelings. Nor do we go to the movies, although I really like it. The last film I saw was
18 years ago. I watch documentaries on television."
Is that also the reason why you don't have children?
"I'm very, very sorry that we don't have children. Hillel and I could have been great parents. My
children would have been smothered with love; I love children so much. But we decided that ballet
is our lives. We don't know how to do half a job. As I know myself, I wouldn't have had enough
time to devote to the children. My mother used to accuse me and my sister that because of us she
couldn't work, because one day my sister was sick and one day I was sick and that drove her crazy.
I was afraid that I would reach such a state and I decided that I would go with ballet all the way."
And what about Hillel?
"Hillel did what I said. I have the best husband in the world. Children are love and happiness, but
children are also very difficult. The moment you have children you've finished with your life.
You're no longer worth anything. Everything revolves around the children. It's impossible to divide
your life between art and children. A child is not a dog. We had a problem with the Israeli dancers
who became mothers. Suddenly she has to leave early, her child is sick, she has fever. That's
impossible. With the Russian dancers it's easier because the babushkas help there and they are
strict about limits and discipline."
Weren't you ever tempted to have a child?
"In my youth I made sure not to become pregnant and we didn't discuss it at all. At some point we
thought about it a little, and my doctor recommended that we go abroad for half a year to relax,
and then I would succeed in becoming pregnant. Of course for me it was impossible to leave the
troupe for such a long time. There was no question here that ballet came first. Always."
"Because we started to dance relatively late," explains Markman, "had we decided to bring
children into the world that would have forced us to stop our career and we couldn't do that.
Anyone can be a mother, but not everyone can be a ballerina, and I, as opposed to Berta, am not
sorry that we have no children. Even raising dogs is a difficult task."
Berta says that it was she who reached the decision and that you supported her.
"I always carried out Berta's wishes. She is the dreamer and the initiator, I'm the implementer
and the protector. There's no one like Berta. She's a national asset."
2006 Don Quichotte Don Quixote
2009 Ni Na
La Belle au Bois Dormant Sleeping Beauty
Centre de Ballet Classique d'Israel, classe de danse
The Classical Ballet Center , ballet class
Berta Yampolski, Hillel Markman
Berta Yampolski, Hillel Markman
Two by two and everyone