There are a whole bunch of expressions that start with “it’s never too late to…”
It would appear that, as a society, we believe in rebirth, renewal and, above
And yet, so often, when a person boldly revamps their image,
they are met with resistance and judgment.
In the eyes of veteran
choreographer Sally Anne Friedland, remaking oneself requires an insane amount
“I’m quite sure that not everyone will say bravo,” she said
in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post of her upcoming premiere, Human
Nitrate. However, for Friedland, this work marks the beginning of a new era, one
that she meets with great excitement.
On Saturday night, Friedland will
unveil this unusual, evening-length production as part of the Suzanne Dellal
Center’s Hot Dance Festival.
Friedland has been part of the local dance
community for over three decades. An immigrant from South Africa, she spent the
lion’s share of her career in Israel. As a dancer, she was known for her long
lines and excellent technique. During her tenure as a Tel Aviv choreographer,
she established a consistent approach to dance. As the director of other
performers, she leaned on her experience on stage as well as her dancers’
classical training to develop movement.
Three years ago, Friedland
premiered Private Collection, a piece that she groups together with the old
style she hopes to have moved beyond with Human Nitrate. Private Collection
boasted highly stylized set pieces, fancy costumes and a strict, unchanging
string of scenes. When she embarked on the journey towards Human Nitrate, she
first searched for new tools to use. She challenged herself by breaking down the
order and allowing for a little craziness to seep in.
“People knew that
when they came to see my work they would receive grand aesthetics and some
comedy. I always relied on comedy to shrug off the pains of life. Like in
Yiddish theater, it’s like those who are the most in pain are the funniest to
watch,” she explained.
Last week, during the Intimadance Festival at
Tmuna Theater, Friedland showed the crowd that people can change, and they do.
The excerpt from Human Nitrate that she showed was completely and utterly
different from any of her previous works.
“There are three stages for
choreographers; young, middle and that third part, I don’t know what to call it.
Now that I’m in that third part, I found that I needed to continue to develop
myself. I’m not new but I have to make myself new, to go ahead as an innovator,”
“It’s like being on a diet,” she said. “You’ve lost a few
pounds but there’s still that pull towards the chocolate cake. For the chocolate
cake was all of those tools I had always used in the past. It’s very easy to be
drawn back to the familiar and ordinary places. It’s easy to remain in one
domain of aesthetics, inspiration and choreography. I wanted to change and I
didn’t know how.”
Whereas in previous processes Friedland contributed a
large portion of the content, she now took a step back, leaving the field open
for her three dancers to give their input. “I was more like a director or an
author than the choreographer of this piece. I was lucky to find three
exceptional people. This piece is really about us, it isn’t about them or me but
about the decisions we made while creating the work. I didn’t want to go into a
fantasy world with this piece. I wanted for us to use our art, the dignity and
prestige of the dance form as a tool to research the depths of our
In her dancers, Friedland found the key to updating her style
to match the current trends in the international dance community. “There is a
generational gap between me and them,” she divulged.
“I got a lot from
their vitality and youth, from the way they see and feel things. At times they
led me and at times I led them.”
Her musical choices also pushed the
piece into the present tense, with a blaring electronic score that both
invigorates and jars the audience. “I have a good knowledge of music but, what
can I say, I’m not up to date. I went through two composers and a huge library
of music and nothing worked.”
Then, during a trip to the gym, Friedland
was handed a sample CD of music by Israeli DJ Skazi.
“It just worked. It
was exactly what we were looking for,” she said.
The piece offers a type
of deconstructed fashion show, during which the three dancers frantically snatch
items out of a giant heap of clothing in the middle of the stage and, in their
new digs, flaunt their stuff for the audience’s approval. “Clothes say so much
about civilization. We have codes for everything, especially dress,” said
As the madness picks up in speed, each dancer’s character
becomes clear. Robin Kain is the egomaniac, attention-deficit drama king; Omer
Astrachan tries with all his might to regain his manly power by stuffing heaps
of fabric into her shirt; and Mor Ben- Zakai struggles and strains to find the
love she is missing while tied by an extension cord to the back wall of the
stage. The piece flows between complete mayhem and strikingly organized
For Friedland, giving over some of the influence to other
artists has allowed for a kind of freedom she thought impossible. “In chaos
there’s freedom and in freedom, chaos,” she smiled.
Human Nitrate will
premiere at the Suzanne Dellal Center on July 21 at 9 p.m.. For more info, visit