European Association for Jewish Culture 




2005 Grant recipients' biographical notes 

Performing arts: new works for the stage

Leon Blank (Stockholm, Sweden) is a choreographer, dancer and teacher who grew up in Poland. He studied choreography and folk dancing at the Internationella Folkdansgillet i Norden in Sweden. He has researched the Jewish dancing traditions as well as the dance forms of Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Israel. He has taught Jewish and other folk dances in a variety of schools and institutions in Sweden for over 30 years. He has performed and led workshops in Jewish dance at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival (1997-2004), in Vienna, Paris, and at several festivals in Sweden and Finland. His choreographies include Fiddler on the Roof for Scala Teatern, Stockholm and Chassidic Dances for Judiska Centret in Stockholm. He has also collaborated on dance programmes for the Swedish television. Leon Blank's desire to preserve Jewish dance forms as a living tradition that can be enjoyed by a wide public and to diversify the Jewish dancing repertoire has led to his new project Jewish Dances to Klezmer Music. It will include a programme of dance workshops and performances in Stockholm and the production of a teaching video.

Deborah Gzesh (Vienna, Austria) is an actress, singer and arts manager. Born in Chicago, she attended New York University School of the Arts, the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, and graduated in Theatre Arts from Hunter College, New York. Together with her Austrian musician husband, she toured the former USSR as a singer at numerous jazz festivals, and in 1989 joined the Serapions Theatre Ensemble in Vienna, remaining there for twelve years, performing in Europe and Israel. Most recently she created and performed Ariira, a children's theatre piece staged in Vienna and at the 2004 International Korczak Theatre Festival in Warsaw. Her project The Bound Man will be developed in collaboration with the Finnish actor and director Kari Rakkola. Their play is based on the writings of the 20th century Austrian Jewish author, Ilse Aichinger. The spectacle draws on visual theatre techniques and live music.

György Kozma (Budapest, Hungary) graduated in art history from ELTE University and holds a master's degree in Jewish studies from the Central European University, Budapest. He is a writer, journalist and cartoonist as well as a playwright and actor. His work for stage and screen includes collaborations with the Gyor National Theatre, the Film Academy (directors: Janos Xantus, Can Togay, Gusztáv Hámos, Sándor Söth), Jeles Theatre, University Theatre and Vidam Szinpad. A substantial part of his written work deals with Jewish themes, especially his family history. His books include History of Budapest Cabaret 1880-1980 and Nijinsky, the Golem. Kozma's project Herzl: The Fugitive is a a present-day version of Herzl's comedy, which will be staged at Vidam Szinpad Theatre in Budapest, Herzl's place of birth.

Jane Liddell-King (Cambridge, UK) is a playwright, poet, author and member of the Cambridge University English Faculty. Her poems and short stories were published in a number of anthologies and she is the author of many articles on art and literature. She has written reviews for The Times Literary Supplement, Cambridge Quarterly and the Jewish Chronicle. She was awarded an Arts for Everyone Lottery award and a grant from the Cambridge University English Faculty for her play Davka, which was staged at the ADC theatre by the Chutzpah Theatre Company. Her new project Seeing the Light is another collaboration with Chutzpah. The play is set in 17th Century Amsterdam and London, and commemorates the resettlement of Jews in England in 1656. It deals with race, religion, persecution, exile and immigration through its main protagonists Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel, Rembrandt and Oliver Cromwell. It will be staged at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge.

Manuelle Lotz (Paris, France) is an actress and theatre director. Her first production for the stage was the World's Memory by Italo Calvino with the Cafarnaum theatre company in 1999. She has also directed The Patient by Anca Visdei. Her most recent play is an adaptation of Peter Diener's novel The Diary of a Mad Woman which explores Holocaust memory and the tension between the pain of remembering and the temptation to forget. The play will be staged at the Theatre Déjazet in Paris and on tour in Vésoul, Meaux and in schools in the Franche-Comté.

Nicola Mascia (Berlin, Germany) was born in Turin, Italy where he trained in classical dance with Loredana Furno. He later trained in contemporary dance in Turin and Rome, and at the Tramaine Dance Centre in Los Angeles. He has lived and worked in Berlin since 1996. His collaborations with Sasha Waltz include Allee der Kosmonauten, Zweiland, Na Zmlje, Dialogues. He has also worked with Emio Greco and Benoit Lachambre. He has danced with Korper, noBody and Insideout. Mascia's video installation No more cookies for you, sir (produced in collaboration with Sampson Zaharkiv) was shown at Choreographenwerkstatt in 2001 in Berlin. Matan Zamir is an Israeli born dancer who trained with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance and the Bat-Dor Dance schools. In 1996, he joined the Batdheva Dance Company. He has worked with many Israeli theatre directors such as Omri Nitzan (New Israeli Opera), Itzik Weingerten (Habima) and choreographers Yasmeen Godder, Inbal Pinto, and Rami Be'er. Since 2002 he has been working in Berlin with Sasha Waltz, Junko Wada and Hanayo. Under is a spectacle which addresses questions of identity and belonging. The first part will be created by Mascia and Zamir and the second by the award-winning Israeli choreographer, Yasmeen Godder.

Adrian Schvarzstein (Barcelona, Spain), was born in Buenos Aires and studied theatre in Israel, mime in France and commedia dell'arte in Italy. After working in opera and in theatre as actor and director's assistant to Dario Fo and Graham Vick, he has specialised in street theatre. His spectacles The Bed and the The Green Man have been performed at many festivals. Since 1999 the two plays have been in the repertoire of the Belgian-based Circus Ronaldo. Schvarzstein won the special prize for outstanding actor at the Haifa Children's Festival, Israel 1998. Klezmer Circus has been inspired by Chagall's circus imagery and by photographs of shtetl life as well as by klezmer music. Schwarztein's collaboration with the circus artist Perla Ovitz is at the centre of this project, which draws on the history of her family of circus and cabaret performers in Transylvania before and during the Second World War. Klezmer Circus recreates the joyful wedding celebrations in a small Jewish community. It will be performed at Ateneu de nou Barris in Barcelone.

Jiri Srnec (Prague, Czech Republic) is an author, director, composer, designer and actor., who graduated from the High School of Applied Arts, the State Music Conservatory and the Puppet and Scenography Department of the Academy of Arts in Prague. He is the founder and artistic director of the Black Light Theatre in Prague and it is under his leadership that the company gained world wide fame, performing in 68 countries around the globe with plays such as Timewalker - The Legends of the Old Mother Prague and other works seen by more than 3 million viewers. Srnec's latest project Franz Kafka's Aphorisms addresses hidden messages of the work of Kafka and projects the writer's thoughts onto the contemporary world. The show will be a fusion of dance, music, puppetry and black light theatre to be performed from June 2005 in a theatre hall only a few hundred metres from where Kafka was born. After a two-year cycle of performances in Prague, the play will tour abroad.

Performing arts: music composition

Amit Arieli (Florence, Italy) was born in Israel. He studied clarinet, composition and electronic music at the Cherubini State Conservatory of Music in Florence. He debuted as a composer with Divertimento in Re, performed by the Conservatory's orchestra at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. In subsequent years, Arieli dedicated himself to chamber music and wrote a series of compositions which were performed at the Open Music Group of Today (GAMO) of Florence, the Music University of Vienna, and the International Music Weeks of Pratovecchio. In 1997, Arieli founded with singer-actor Enrico Fink, the group Lokshen whose aims are to research and disseminate Jewish music in Italy. For Lokshen, he composed a series of musical shows, revisiting Jewish musical traditions and reinterpreting them. His shows received critical and popular acclaim in hundreds of venues ranging from city squares to prestigious theatres and festivals, including the Berlin and Venice Jewish Festivals and the Ancona Klezmer Festival. They were recorded with Lokshen on two CDs. In 2003, the Nessiah Festival of Pisa commissioned the writing of New Freylachs, and a reinterpretation of traditional Sephardic and Ashkenazi chants for clarinet, voice and orchestra which were performed by the Adar Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Andrea Gottfried, and performed by Evelina Meghnagi (vocals). His most recent composition for clarinet and orchestra, Hassidiah, was performed at the 2004 Summer Music Festival of Bertinoro. Arieli's previous awards include Best Original Composition at the Safed Klezmer Festival in 1998. Amit Arieli was awarded an EAJC grant for New Old Klezmer to be performed at a series of concerts around Italy and recorded on CD by Ethnoworld (Milan).

Omer Arieli (Vienna, Austria) was born in Israel and studied at the Cherubini Conservatory in Florence, the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and the University of Vienna, where he now lives. He is a teacher, composer and conductor. His works have been performed at many festivals including Festival Puccini in Torre del Lago, Kammeroper in Vienna and Magio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence. In 2002, Omer Arieli was awarded the Belvedere Prize in Vienna. He is the author of some thirty arrangements of liturgical and ethnic songs (Klezmer, Mizrahi, Ladino) and Israeli and Palestinian folkdance music for a number of singing and instrumental groups. His compositions have also been performed by the Music University of Vienna, the Milan Conservatory, Austrian radio (ORF), the orchestre Nessiah in Pisa and the Centre Halevi in Vienna. His new work Yaakov, a composition for one solo singer, eleven instruments and a children's choir, tells the story of Jacob. It will be performed in June 2005 at the auditorium of the Jewish Museum of Vienna in the framework of of the Festival Jüdische Festwochen.

Lubomir Denev (Sofia, Bulgaria) is a composer and conductor who studied at the State Musical Academy in Sofia. He began performing as a jazz pianist and composer with his own trio at several music festivals all over Europe. He was the conductor of the State Musical Theatre Stefan Makedonski from 1977-86. Since then Denev has been a free-lance composer and conductor working with the best symphonic orchestras in Bulgaria including the Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra. He has recorded with the Greek National Orchestra and the Bulgarian National Symphony Orchestra. His work has been performed in Europe and beyond. A television film devoted to his work The Music I Make was made by Bulgarian National TV in 2000. Most recently, Denev was awarded a composition prize by the Festival Intersonanzen of Potsdam for Playing with the Wind. Devev's chamber opera Cain is based on Lord Byron's work on the biblical theme of sacrifice and redemption. Cain will be performed at the Jewish Cultural Centre in Sofia.

Visual arts: exhibitions of new work

Monika Bulaj (Lombardo, Italy) was born in Warsaw and now resides in Italy. She is a photographer, journalist, documentary scriptwriter and anthropologist. Her photographic work has appeared in newspapers such as Gazeta Wyborcza, La Repubblica, Courrier International and in a number of books published in Poland and Italy. Her solo photographic exhibitions have been shown in countries such as Poland, Bulgaria Italy and Hungary with collective exhibitions shown in Albania, Serbia, Macedonia and South America. God's People, a journey through another Europe (from the Baltic to the Black Sea) will include some 60 photographs with text, alongside a DVD projected on the big screen. It will depict Jewish presence and spirituality in the neglected, lesser known Jewish communities of Eastern Europe and their co-existence with other ethnic and religious groups. The exhibit will be shown in Rome at the Polish Institute, Palazzo Blumenstihl in October 2005 and will tour several other European cities.

Silvia Dzubas (Berlin, Germany) was born in Berlin, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. After witnessing the Prague Spring in 1968, she emigrated to the West. Her work has been shown in many galleries in Berlin, Munich, Potsdam and Lucerne. Her love of life and freedom is translated in her strongly emotional art through vivid colours. Ladder of the Sky is a series of works (acrylic and pigment on canvas), which explore the theme of heaviness and lightness. The exhibition at the Moses Mendelssohn Academy in Halberstadt will open in November 2005 and will be accompanied by a discussion forum on the theme of the Jewish heritage of Eastern and Western Europe.

Zafer Galibov (Sofia, Bugaria) began working as a photo journalist in 1978. His work has been published in Lada, Nasha Rodina, Bulgarian Telegraphic Agency, Literaturen Front and Demokratsia. He has been influenced by thw work of Henri-Cartier-Bresson and the Lithuanian school of photography. His interests lie in architecture, theatre and cinema and, more recently, the life of Jewish communities. His project The Street consists of 100 colour photographs on Jewish life in Bulgaria, past and present.

Glenn Sujo (London, UK) was born in Buenos Aires. He has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s. His one-person exhibitions have been held at the ICA, London, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas and Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; his work has also been shown in many collective exhibits. Sujo's works are held in many public collections incl. the British Museum, Victoria and Albert, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. He is also an art lecturer and curator. Sujo's time at Haifa University as guest artist and lecturer, and as an associate lecturer at the Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem, inspired his new project Germinations and other works. This exhibition will include etchings, drypoints and acquatints celebrating the diversity of plant life in the contested strip of land in Israel stretching from the Golan Mountains to the Negev desert. Germinations will be exhibited at the West London Synagogue in London, the University of Northumbria Art Gallery in Newcastle and at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.

Harald Wolff (Paris, France) was born in Berlin where he studied at the High School of Art. He has lived and worked in Florence, Haifa, Schleswig-Holstein and Hum (Slovenia) and is currently based in Paris. His work has been shown in many galleries: Arts and Crafts in Berlin, Museum Haus Check Point Charlie in Dresden and Galerie Mediart in Paris. His work has been acquired by several public collections including the Fonds National de l'Art Contemporain in Paris. His work is distinguished by vigorous line drawing combined with suggestive and diffuse use of colour. The Twelve Tribes is a collection of 12 oil paintings on the theme of dispersion, transmission, inheritance and the Promised Land to be shown at the Gallerie Christof Horschik in Dresden in June 2005.


Films and Documentaries

David Mauas (Barcelona, Spain) is a director of short films and videos (La Hora Sin Sombra, Over the Line, Sara Take II, Beiad Chazaka) and has produced and directed art reports for Channel 2 of Israel (program: Kartis LeShnaim). From 1995 to 1997 he headed the Video Department at the Jerusalem. He produced and directed a report for the Israel Television commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of Walter Benjamin’s death at Port Bou and participated in the planning of the Fourth International Jewish Film Festival of Barcelona. Since July 2003 he has resided in Cologne, Germany, researching, writing and preparing the shooting of a film about the circumstances of the death of Walter Benjamin in the Catalan town of Portbou in 1940, entitled Who Killed Walter Benjamin… Besides the production of this documentary, he has been working on other proposals for The Netherlands, Israel and Spain, such as the publication of a book about the circumstances of Benjamin’s death in Portbou (Editorial Inédita, Barcelona, 2005) and the editing of a documentary film provisionally entitled Terezin/Theresienstadt, Between the Fisfus and the Repetition.




Why a European Association for Jewish Culture?/Aims/The Board, Staff and Associated Organizations/Contact Us/Press Releases/2002 Grant Awards /2003 Grant Awards