Video: An excerpt from Airfield, Liat Dror and Nir Ben-Gal’s latest creation
Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror first burst onto the stage with Two Room Apartment in 1987, and they continued to create a stir with their choreography throughout the 1990s. But when I got to Tel Aviv last year, the couple was nowhere to be found.
It’s not that Nir and Liat disappeared from the country’s dance scene. They just carved out a non-traditional space for themselves in Mizpe Ramon, a small desert town a few hours southeast from Tel Aviv. There, in a place they call Adama (“earth”), they live, teach, and create.
Occasionally the pair still brings their company to Tel Aviv for performances. After months of hearing a bit about Nir and Liat, I finally got to see their Prince Charming in November 2007 at Tmuna Theater. But to find out more about Adama, I decided to venture into the desert for a visit in January 2008. And then again in April 2008. And, well, again in June 2008.
I first wrote the article below for The Winger after my second stay at Adama.
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My Visit to Adama (April 2008)
One of the spectacular views in Mizpe Ramon, in Israel’s Negev Desert.
The entrance to Adama, an old industrial hangar in Mizpe Ramon which has been converted into a dance center.
The grounds at Adama, complete with a garden tended by the dancers.
Indoor tepees for sleeping at Adama.
The lounge area near the large studio at Adama.
The dance jam session on Saturday night in the large studio at Adama.
I just returned from a brief trip to a magical place in the middle of the Negev desert. Situated in the town of Mizpe Ramon, the site of an enormous and beautiful crater, Adama (which means “earth” in Hebrew) is hands down the most unique dance center I have ever visited. Acclaimed choreographers Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal left Tel Aviv in 1999 to forge a new path in the south of Israel, where they renovated an abandoned industrial hangar. Today, Adama has beautiful studios, welcoming lounges, communal sleeping spaces as well as more private indoor tepees and rooms made of mud, a vegetarian kitchen, a garden, and more . . .
Besides transforming the physical space around them, Liat and Nir have developed an approach to dancing which, coming from inside, is potentially healing for the body. When I took class from them on Sunday and Monday, I spent a lot of time with my eyes closed, tuning into my breath and weight. Liat prefaced a lot of her directions with “Very gently . . .,” while Nir frequently reminded us to move without effort and instructed us to walk softly, using the image of placing our heart in our feet. Although I was quite sore and tight at the end of last week, I have to say, I feel great now!
Like other visitors – the center often attracts individuals who drop in throughout the year as well as groups who come for special workshops – I was able to participate fully in the Adama school’s activities, which run from Sunday to Tuesday. Classes range from contemporary technique, yoga, flamenco, African dance, and aerial dance to reflexology and basket weaving (I got to watch a class on my first visit in January!). Sunday evenings always include an open dance jam, while Monday evenings often feature showings and discussions.
Before classes begin in the morning, everyone works on a variety of projects in the garden and on the grounds (this morning I lashed branches to a wooden structure to create some shade). Company dancers are also in residence on these days, taking and teaching classes as well as rehearsing for new productions. There’s a wonderful exchange of information and energy among all the people in this community – and indeed, with group meals, many inviting communal areas, and cozy on-site sleeping spaces, Adama feels very much like a community despite the ever-shifting makeup of its inhabitants.
I could go on and on about this marvelous place and my experience there, but I’ll stop for now. On this trip, I interviewed Liat and Nir for my podcast series, and soon I’ll post the audio here so you can hear them reflect about Adama themselves.
Many thanks to Liat, Nir, Reut, Etty, and everyone else at Adama for an unforgettable start to my week!
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Upcoming Events at Adama
Adama is holding both a summer workshop (July 13-17) and a teachers’ course (July 26-30). Read more about these events at Adama’s website.
Related Articles on Dance In Israel
- ” ‘Then and Now’ Brings Old and New Together at Shades of Dance” – a bit about Two Room Apartment
- “Dance in the Desert: Shavuot at Adama”