Yasmeen Godder was born in Jerusalem in 1973 and moved with her family to New York City in 1984. Growing up in NY, Godder studied dance at the LaGuardia High School. for Performing Arts and was deeply connected to the punk scene in downtown Manhattan. Godder received her BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU while attending a variety of workshops and classes at Movement Research which have impacted her approach to dance making until today. While still in school she began presenting her choreographic work at Downtown Arts Festival and Gowanus Arts Exchange. After completing her BFA she continued to work as an independent choreographer in NY, and was commissioned by Dance Theater Workshop’s Freshtracks and Splitstream Series, Dancing in the Streets, and the Kitchen. During this period she was a 1999-2000 Movement Research Artist in Residence.
In 1999 Godder was invited to present her solo, Aleena’s Wall, at the Gvanim (Shades in Dance) Festival at the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance in Tel-Aviv. The solo was well received and she was immediately commissioned to make a work for the HaRamat Masach (Curtain Up Festival), Israel’s leading festival for independent dance makers. Since 1999, Godder has been commissioned eight times by the Curtain Up Festival, supporting her to continuing research and developing artistry. This continuous platform allowed Godder to establish her company which over the years has received local and international acclaim for the works’ depth, impact, and complexity.
To date Godder has created fourteen evening-length works: Hall (2001), Sudden Birds (2002), Two Playful Pink (2003), Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder (2004), I'm Mean, I Am (2006), Singular Sensation(2008), Love Fire (2009), Storm End Come (2011) and See Her Change (2013). In 2014 she created two new works which deal with her own choreographic archive: Climax, commissioned by the Petach Tikva Museum of Art, a three-hour performance piece and Lie Like A Lion- a solo work exploring the archive in her own body. In May 2016 Godder premiered in Theatre Freiburg the work - Common Emotions, an artistic outcome of a year-long project involving dancers, scientists and people living with Parkinson’s disease, researching together movement disorders. Another outcome of this project was the creation Simple Action- a participatory choreographic action inspired by Stabat Mater. Most recently Godder premiered Demonstrate Restraint, in which she returned to performing alongside Tomer Damsky a vocalist and musician, and together they deal with the need to respond to their surrounding political environment.
In addition to creating for her company, Godder has been commissioned by the Batsheva Dance Company, Theater Freiburg, and most recently by the Candoco Dance Company- a well established mixed-ability group based in London. All of her works have been presented in Israel and at numerous venues throughout the world including: Lincoln Center Festival, Sydney Opera House, Montpellier Danse, Hebbel Am Ufer, Kunstenfestdesarts, The Place, Tokyo Festival, and many more.
Godder is the recipient of numerous awards including a 2001 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for her work i feel funny today, presented at Dance Theater Workshop. Other awards include: the Israeli Ministry of Culture Award for Young Choreographer (2001, 2003); The Israeli Ministry of Culture Award for Best Small Ensemble in Dance (2003, 2009); The Tel Aviv Municipality Rosenblum Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts as “Promising Artist” (2004) and “Excellent Artist” (2009). Yasmeen was a Chosen Artist of the Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation (2004-09), and in 2005 she received the prestigious Michael Landau Prize for the Performing Arts from the Tel Aviv Municipality. Most recently Godder received the Israeli Ministry of Culture Award for “Best Creation” in 2015 for her work CLIMAX. In 2018 Godder was chosen to be a Valeska Gert Guest Professor for Dance And Performance at the Institut fürTheaterwissenschaft (drama department) at Freie Universität Berlin.
In 2015 the Yasmeen Godder Company collaborated with Theatre Freiburg on a year-long project, “Störung/Hafra’a,” which won the inaugural Shimon Peres Prize in 2017 for its innovative approach to bring together professional dancers, scientists and people living with Parkinson’s disease to collaboratively research movement. Since March 2015, the company continues to host two weekly dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s disease, led by professional dancers and choreographers, some of whom are company members and others from the independent choreographer’s scene. These classes place an emphasis on the cross-pollination that occurs when bringing current ideas and practices in contemporary dance to a community of a different generation and physical state. These unique classes have highly influenced the company’s creations, skills and approach and also brought forth two international conferences around Parkinson’s disease, dance and community: “Störung/Hafra’a” (2016) and ‘“Moving Communities” (2018), both held at the Mandel Cultural Center.
Three books have been written about Godder’s work: Paolo Ruffini’s Yasmeen Godder (L'Epos, Italy, 2005), EXTREMUM-Reflection on the work of Yasmeen Godder (The Petach Tikva Museum of Arts and Asia Publications, 2014) and most recently Set in Motion Dance-Art-Community (The Petach Tikva Museum of Arts and Asia Publications, 2017). Godder and her creations have received a distinctive focus in two books on the international contemporary dance scene, among them in Rosita Boisseau’s Panorama de la Danse Contemporaine (100 Chorégraphes) and Norikoshi Takao’s Dance Like Nobody. (Tokyo, Japan, 2009).
In 2007 Godder opened her own studio in Jaffa, which has become a home for all of her activity and projects including creation processes and rehearsals, open classes and workshops for professionals and non-professionals, community exchanges, performances, and production and artistic support of young choreographers.