Noa Dar’s “Tetris” – Shaping the Space

Posted on 14 January 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(Video: The Noa Dar Dance Group in Tetris, a collaboration between Noa Dar and visual artist Nati Shamia-Opher)

I first wrote about Noa Dar’s Tetris (טטריס) in “From Studios to Stages” on my own blog and have edited an excerpt of that article for this post.

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It’s no wonder that Tetris (2006) premiered at the Acco Festival for Alternative Theater, or that it won a prize there.  This collaboration between choreographer Noa Dar and visual artist Nati Shamia-Opher shapes the performance space into the most alternative set-up that I have ever witnessed, and it left its mark on my mind when I saw it last year.

I heard about Tetris soon after arriving in Israel and eagerly looked forward to seeing a staging in Tel Aviv at the Noa Dar Studio.  I was familiar with the the chosen location because I had taken several contemporary technique classes there – but when I arrived for the performance November 10, 2007, I found the studio cleverly transformed.  Tetris‘s treatment of the spectator-performer relationship in this redesigned space is so unique that I would like to describe a bit of it below:

As Tetris begins, each audience member enters the studio individually, stepping onto a stool surrounded by a small booth and sticking his or her head through hole in the top; it is as if each person is a block about to be dropped into the classic video game called “Tetris.”  Next, spectators receive their own stools, join a line of other viewers, and then – once the line is complete – they are ushered by dancers to move their stools to a grid underneath a large wooden hut with rows of holes in the roof.  All the while, two dancers maneuver underneath and on top of the structure.  Once the entire audience is seated underneath the hut, we are instructed to stand on our stools and poke our heads through the holes.  This action is accompanied by a lot of twittering: all of a sudden we are disembodied, with our necks surrounded by the cut-out holes and our heads protected by wire domes.  It is strange indeed to look around and only see heads!

Standing in the midst of the structure, with our heads poking up into what is now the “stage,” we are the ultimate spectators even as we become the objects of other audience members’ gazes.  Our role in the event grows more complex with the entrance of the performers.  The six dancers begin slowly, prowling on top of the hut, looking intently at us, sliding across the space on their bellies, and occasionally drawing so close that their body parts are directly in our faces.  We watch, and we are watched.  With our own disembodiment – and from this perspective, with our spectating eyes mere inches above the floor – the performers’ bodies assume an extraordinary power.  To see moments of intimacy, desire, and violence from this angle is something else altogether . . .

Here’s another glimpse of Noa Dar’s Tetris, performed in Acco:

(Video: The Noa Dar Dance Group in Tetris, a collaboration between Noa Dar and visual artist Nati Shamia-Opher)

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For More Information

Visit Noa Dar’s website and learn more about TetrisTetris will be performed at the Noa Dar Studio in Tel Aviv on January 20, 22, and 24.  Check details on Noa Dar’s performance calendar and Dance In Israel’s Events page.  Call  03-6954440 for tickets.

Related Posts on Dance In Israel

For more about choreography which re-frames the relationship between dancers and audience members, read “Mamootot – Challenging the Performer-Spectator Divide.”

*This post was made possible thanks to a Fulbright student grant funded by the U.S.-Israel Educational Foundation and hosted by the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

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