Hello Dance in Israel readers.
For those of you whom I have yet to meet, I will begin my guest blogging with a short introduction.
I am Ori Josephine Lenkinski, dancer turned dance writer and perhaps, with a little inspiration and honing of skill, writer with no disclaimers.
I am currently in Vienna, Austria taking part in a very special program called DanceWEB, which is a five-week residency for sixty some dance practitioners as part of Impulstanz Vienna International Dance Festival. For over ten years I dreamed of one day sitting exactly where I am at this moment and, low and behold, when I least expected it, the festival gods smiled upon me. From over one thousand applications received, mine was first passed into a preliminary round of three hundred then finally selected. I applied for this position online, in an extensive process that included many personal statements, recommendations from my employers and peers, photos and performance footage.
Impulstanz is undoubtedly a serious contender for Europe’s largest annual dance event. If you are not familiar with the festival, check out the website (www.impulstanz.com).
As a danceWEBber, I am treated to a free pass to all classes and performances. The last ten days since my pre-sunrise departure from Ben Gurion Airport have been the most intense in my life. We work from the morning till the evening, then rush off to see shows.
Upon arrival I discovered that I am here representing my oldest passport, which was issued by the Canadian government, and not my home country, which is Israel.
I have been living in Tel Aviv for four years, in which time I have become deeply entrenched in the local dance community as both a performer and a writer for the Jerusalem Post.
I moved to Israel because I fell in love with the dance aesthetic I saw during several visits to the country. I maintain that the work coming out of our small land is clever, engaging and distinctly Israeli. Having spent the last chunk of time learning the local scene by heart, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to check out what is happening in dance in central Europe.
This week I attended workshops with Ko Murobushi (Butoh master), Claudia La Rocco (dance critic for the New York Times and poet), New York based dancer/choreographer Trajal Harral and Paris based dancer/choreographer DD Dorvillier.
As for performances, so far I have taken in:
Jhoom a large-scale, open-air Bollywood spectacle by Indian choreographer Terrence Lewis, a new work by Edouard Locke for Montreal’s Lalala Human Steps, Viefalt by Nicole Piesl, Perparatio Mortis and Prometheus by Jan Fabre, Unturtled #1 and #4 by Isabelle Schad and Laurent Goldring, Elena’s Aria by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker for Rosas Dance Company, Splendid Isolation by Valerie Oberleithner, Spaces and Bones by Melanie Maar, Youdream by Superamas and Some Faves [WildWalk] by Ivo Dimchev.
In reflecting on this marathon of viewing, I can begin to point out a few trends present in the dance world right now. One is nudity, but that is hardly new. The other is politics. Though none of these pieces were explicitly political, it seems that the almighty Impulstanz programmers had commentary in mind when handpicking their playbill for this year’s festival. I suspect that this is an ongoing interest for them. Overall, the discourse here, and especially within the danceWEB program, is largely commentative. We are encouraged not to accept any performance as it is presented but to consider and question all of the decisions that brought about said piece.
Another undeniable trend is the lack of movement in new dance pieces. Sure, Lalala Human Steps presented a neo-classical opus rife with pirouettes and high legs, but the rest of the lot seemed to have a distinct disdain for what we call dancing. It would appear that the young dance makers of today have exchanged physical virtuosity, and by this I mean dashing jumps and displays of flexibility for bare breasts and pedestrian gestures.
Although many of the shows I watched left me longing for costumed dancers moving to music, there is a more important statement being made by the programmers here: dance and choreography are not one in the same.
Beyond that, I don’t know how to make sense of all the information I have taken in this week, both in the studio and in the theater. More to come . . .