“For our students to be able to learn from these esteemed artists and scholars is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
As Dana Ivgy
walks across the San Diego State University campus to her acting class, she looks like any other undergraduate student—but she’s most definitely not.
Ivgy is an award-winning Israeli actress
who has graced the screen and stage for more than two decades. In 2014, she won the Ophir Award, also known as the Israeli Oscar. She won the best actress award for her role in the dark comedy, "Zero Motivation," a movie about a group of female Israeli soldiers based in the remote desert awaiting their return to civilian life.
Ivgy is teaching two courses at SDSU this semester as part of the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program through the Israel Institute in Washington, D.C. It is the second consecutive year SDSU has been chosen for this highly selective program. Only 14 U.S. universities are asked to participate each year.
“For our students to be able to learn from these esteemed artists and scholars is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Risa Levitt Kohn
, chair of SDSU’s Jewish Studies program who hosts the visiting artists. “It is impactful beyond just Jewish studies, students from across campus get to interact with them and learn about Israeli culture.”
Igvy is teaching graduate level students in SDSU’s School of Theatre, Television, and Film who plan on pursuing professional acting careers.
“I want to teach actors who are dedicated to making art their career,” said Ivgy. “Everyone is very enthusiastic.”
In Israel, where only about 20 major motion pictures are produced each year, actors are not simply actors. Ivgy is also co-founder of the Tziporella Theatre Company. Through that company, Ivgy gets to perform around the world and teach master classes in collaborative creativity, one of the courses she brought to SDSU.
“Collaboration is intrinsic to acting because you must work together to elicit emotion from one another,” Ivgy said.
She is also teaching a course on “acting in front of the camera.” As someone who started acting at the age of eight, Ivgy said it was an enlightening exercise preparing to teach the course.
“It has been interesting to take what I do instinctively and develop a lesson plan around it,” Ivgy said. “Just discovering how I like to work, research roles and trigger my inspiration has been really good for me.”
One of the key lessons she hopes her students take away is the ability to feel comfortable making mistakes. It’s a lesson Ivgy said she learned at Nisan Nativ Acting School in Tel Aviv.
“My mentor once told me that we are in school to make mistakes, because better to make them here than out in the real world,” said Ivgy, whose father, Moshe Ivgy
, is considered one of the best actors in Israel.
“I tell my students ‘if you think you’ve gone too far, go 50 percent further,” she said.
Ivgy recently participated in the San Diego Jewish Film Festival where she spoke at a screening of "Zero Motivation." At SDSU, a screening is planned for April 6. On April 18, SDSU’s Jewish Studies program is planning a panel on Israeli Film and Television, which Ivgy will also participate in.