Tag Archive | "Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder"

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Dancing Through the Intifada: Yasmeen Godder’s “Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder”

Posted on 05 March 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Yasmeen Godder's "Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder"

Yasmeen Godder’s Stawberry Cream and Gunpowder.  Photo by Tamar Lamm.

The cameras in this region frequently capture pictures of destruction and death, of terror and torture, of bombing scenes and blood, of gore and grief.

Working in a different medium, the choreographers in Israel do not often turn their gaze in this direction.  But in 2004, Yasmeen Godder focused her artistic lens squarely on the conflict in her country – and specifically on the tragic images flooding the media – in Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder. Transforming real photographs into surreal scenes, Godder and her Bloody Bench Players exposed the complexities of the situation to the audience and cast its horrors in sharp relief.

I watched Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder on DVD in autumn 2007, and after collecting myself – it’s not an easy work to watch – I spent much of the night writing about this haunting dance.  The result, “Dancing Through the Intifada,” first appeared on my own blog on November 13, 2007.

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I just returned home from watching a DVD of Yasmeen Godder’s haunting Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder (2004), and it’s impossible for me to think of anything else at the moment.  Created a few years into the second intifada, Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder is the first work I have seen which tackles the situation directly, with imagery drawn from media reports of the violence.

If my mind was fresher, perhaps I could write a rich, fuller description of the dance’s action, for indeed there is much that is worthy of comment: prolonged stillnesses which force the viewer to register the horror of these televised, photographed images; the way bodies skilled in release technique, with their loose and reactive limbs, all too believably portray bodies responding to the force of gunshots and physical manipulation; how a context of terror transforms typically normal and even joyous positions and actions; the dressing of the space, with unfixed patches of grass scattered across the stage and an automated gate on stage right; the combination of an original score with the dancers’ piercing emotional cries and occasional bursts of singing; the progression of energy and time, with all hell breaking loose at the end; the curtain call, with two dancers still fully in character during and after the audience applause, finishing moments later as if to emphasize that this is not a fictional scenario limited to the stage time or to the theater’s interior.

Right now, however, my mind is caught up with more philosophical musings and questions.

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Close Encounters Series: Yasmeen Godder

Posted on 03 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation will be performed in New Haven, CT as part of Yale University’s World Performance Project Festival on November 11-12. Photo by Tamar Lamm.  See our Events page for the listing.

Throughout my time in Israel, I have had the privilege of speaking with a number of choreographers and dancers about their art.  Here on Dance In Israel, I will be sharing these conversations with you in a series of “Close Encounters” articles and in a series of podcasted audio interviews.  This “Close Encounters” article on Yasmeen Godder was first published on The Winger in June of 2008.

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Yasmeen Godder. Photo by Natan Dvir.

If you’re part of the New York dance scene, you’ve probably stepped through some of the same doors as Yasmeen Godder. Born in Israel and raised in Jerusalem until age 11, Yasmeen moved to the U.S. with her family, attended the High School of the Performing Arts in New York City, studied at Movement Research and the Klein School, and received her undergraduate degree from NYU’s Tisch School. The Kitchen, DTW, and Dancing in the Streets have all commissioned work from her, and she was awarded a Bessie in 2001 for I Feel Funny Today.

If you’re part of the Israeli dance scene, you’ve undoubtedly felt Yasmeen’s influence and quite possibly crossed paths with her. I had heard of Yasmeen prior to arriving in Israel because of her activities in the U.S. and the acclaim which has greeted her works both in the states and Europe, and as soon as I arrived in Israel, I began to realize the impact she has made in her home country. Her name frequently came up in conversations about both choreographers and teachers, and many people urged me to see her work and take her class. So it was that I ventured down to Yafo (Jaffa) to take technique at her studio, attended a performance there of Sudden Birds (see the video below), and went to a performance of I’m Mean, I Am at the Suzanne Dellal Center.

Months later, I’m not surprised that I heard so much buzz about Yasmeen. I found Yasmeen’s classes to be quite challenging and enormously helpful in their specificity, especially as I attempt to widen my body’s range and move with less muscular effort. She welcomes students’ reflections in class and presents her own ideas with clarity and details that enable me to adjust my mindset and body to a more unfamiliar technical framework.

I also found Yasmeen’s choreography to be as challenging as her classes, and refreshingly so. Continue Reading

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