Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim’s “Mana”

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Video: Vertigo in Noa Wertheim’s Mana

Another guest at International Exposure 2009, Talia Baruch, covers the San Francisco-area dance scene for her blog GoSee– Dance. She wrote some reviews of dances she saw here in Israel in December for her website and is generously sharing them here on Dance In Israel.

Talia’s second guest article is about Noa Wertheim’s Mana, which premiered as part of Curtain Up’s 20th anniversary and was a hit with the audience at International Exposure.  Read on to hear Talia’s take on this captivating work.

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International Exposure 2009—Suzanne Dellal Dance Center | Vertigo Dance Company

By Talia Baruch

Vessel of Light

Choreography & Artistic Director: Noa Wertheim | Co-Artistic Director: Adi Sha’al | Music: Ran Bagno | Percussion: Dani Makov | Stage & Costume Design: Rakefet Levy | Lighting Design: Dani Fishof | Still photography: Gadi Dagon | Review & Copywriting: Talia Baruch

Mana dances the tension between container and contained, exterior and interior, whole and hollow.

And what is installed first, vessel or light?
Does the Sun rise to fill in the absence of Moonlight, or rather is it the lack of Moonlight that creates the inspiration of its vessel, container of light?
(Based on the Zohar)

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

This timeless tale follows the flow in black and white, with few specks of ruddy-warm.  The bewitching-dark night stands in still, mystical contrast to the milky-white house, symmetrically centered in its simple stable form on stage.

Geometric shapes will now act out the dialogue between feminine and masculine, draw the drama between the forces of life that forever struggle to compliment each other:

Feminine: circular, soft black balloon, hanging like a full moon, up above the house

Masculine: pointy, sharp angular triangular roof, edgy rectangular door, protruding

Feminine: curve and crave in sensual, spiral hip-stirred movements

Masculine: stride, high-strung, across the stage in “connect-the-dot”-like linear routes

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Both forces aspire to escape the hollow and reach the whole in this quest to be holistically contained and content. The visual image interlaced throughout the show is of a black balloon attached to a dancer, pulling her up, tall, stretching out for perfection, her white legs long and strong, trotting like a royal horse in a parade.

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

At first glance, the fully dressed, almost orthodox, costumes communicate a puritan, reserved modesty.  But quite quickly, a bare foot peeking under heavy garment, an escaping white shoulder, a curving contour, a tight waistline, a hip, lend to a sensual, lustful, communication.  The free-fall back bends and suicidal leaps shatter the quiet, restrained recital.

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

The music drapes the dancers like a fitted gown, in sync, in tune. I play the soundtrack CD over and over and give in to the lyric mood quietly setting in.  Ran Bagno, who has been working hand in hand with Vertigo’s mom and pap (Noa and Adi), wrote the score and played all the instruments, except for percussion, tapped by Dani Makov.  I sit with Bagno over cappuccino on a sunny winter day in down town Tel Aviv and ask him about the creative process of piecing music for this show. “Unlike some other dances, Mana isn’t a collage of fragmented scenes,” he says, “rather, it’s composed as a single, comprehensive piece. When Noa came out with the idea of a ‘vessel holding light’ I struggled to find just the right musical instrument to fit in…until I stumbled over my kid’s old, abandoned guitar. Something about its virgin, broken, acoustic sound was perfect for infusing the muse.”

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Watching the fluid flow of movement on stage, I’m reminded of Alexander Calder’s art — capturing compound sketches in one single line stroke.  The expression captured in Mana carries the visual aesthetics of calligraphy: fine brush, dipped in black ink, forms a black blotch over snow white paper.  Then, in a single skilled hand, it drifts, pulling up tall, lying low, and spiraling all the way through.

Noa Wertheim’s Mana. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Vertigo Dance Company founded the pea-green Eco Art Village, where they live and create in a little utopian planet of clean air and fresh manure: This might explain why their work is genuinely untainted, raw and earthly.

Talia Baruch is a writer and translator covering the dance/theater scene in San Francisco, where she has been living for the past 11 years. She is the founder of Copyous, providing creative copywriting and Localization Strategies. The ingredients that shaped her life are the explosive dance scene in urban Tel Aviv, where she grew up, the pea-green English country side, where she inhaled a handsome amount of fresh-manure & horseback-countered through endless woods, and the 24/7 Localization/Internationalization business bustle, that put perspective to it all.

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One thought on “Vertigo Dance Company in Noa Wertheim’s “Mana”

  • good grief, has anyone ever seen so much verbal drivel on one page, such linguistic masturbation. it’s either impressive or it’s not. damned if i’m going to read joyce with a compedium or watch a dance show with my face in an explanation. a little less horse manure, please.

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