This week, at the premier of her new piece, M, choreographer Inbal Oshman will have just begun the eighth month of pregnancy with her third daughter. “The time I have been working on this piece directly coincides with my pregnancy. I began this round of the process right as I found out I was having this baby,” said Oshman. M will be presented twice, once at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv and once at the Jerusalem International YMCA.
M is Oshman’s interpretation of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s 1736 creation Stabat Mater. Standing at the front of a dance studio in the Givatayim Mall, Oshman quickly mentioned the names of the sections she wanted the dancers to review before continuing her thought. “I have dreamed of creating a piece on this music for years,” said Oshman. “Several months ago, I saw that the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra was performing Stabat Mater. I sat there in the auditorium, which was packed to the brim, in complete ecstasy.”
Oshman approached the directors of the orchestra about a collaboration and to her surprise and delight they jumped on board.
Oshman, 33, is an expressive communicator with an intense gaze and a shy smile.
She has been working as an independent choreographer in Tel Aviv for the past several years, presenting work at local festivals. “This performance, which will bring together four dancers, seven musicians and two opera singers, is the realization of a fantasy of mine. I feel that I’m breaking the glass ceiling of what’s possible for independent choreographers in Israel.
This production is so large, so complex and so thrilling for me. I can’t believe it’s going to really happen.”
The process for M began more than a year ago in Bangalore, India. “In January 2013, I was invited to participate in the FACETS International Choreography Residency,” said Oshman. With her partner and two girls in tow, she made the trek to Bangalore, where she discovered an oasis of creativity. “Bangalore is home to a budding contemporary dance scene, largely thanks to the work of the Attakkalari Center for Movement Arts,” she said.
Once situated, Oshman got down to business. “I knew I wanted to make a piece about mothers,” she explained.
Reading through Indian scriptures, Oshman found an invaluable inspiration.
“I read the tale of Khali. She was a god, a militant and fierce character but a good one. Khali sets out to fight demons but her rage overwhelms her and she becomes destructive. Shiva, her creator, tries in vain to stop her. Finally, he changes into a baby. Khali picks up the baby Shiva and he nurses the rage out of her. Something about that story resonated very strongly with me.”
In Bangalore, Oshman was presented with a cast of local dancers from the center’s repertory company. “I worked with four women. Each brought her own individual background and life story to the work. Their movements and training are so different from that of the dancers I work with in Israel. I feel that their input really influenced the foundation of the piece.”
The original version of M premiered during the International Dance Biennale in Bangalore in February 2013.
Having survived fevers and flus, Oshman-plus-three returned to Israel with the seeds of M ready to be sown in local soil. She assembled four Israeli women, two of whom had recently given birth. Her cast, Bosmat Nossan, Shani Ben Haim, Or Hakim and Ilana Bellahsen, are all experienced, mature performers. “I chose these dancers because of they are so different one from the other, in energy [and] vibe.”
The performance, like the composition, is broken into 12 distinct sections. Each section approaches femininity and motherhood from a different angle. In section five, the dancers recreate iconic images of women taken from well-known paintings, such as the Pieta and The Ecstasy of Mary. In section six, the dancers perform a type of ritual, stomping feet and crawling in a circle.
“I believe very strongly in evoking emotion through physicality. The images we are working with will be familiar to everyone.We took these vignettes and moved them forward into a place of flow and continuity.”
Following the premier of M, Oshman will take her family, including her newborn child, to a three-month residency at the Kyoto Art Center in Japan.
Oshman was the sole dance artist chosen to participate in the program in 2014/2015.
M will be presented at the Suzanne Dellal Center tonight at 9 p.m. (www.suzannedellal.org.il) and at the Jerusalem International YMCA on April 5 at 8:30 p.m. (www.jerusalemymca.org). For tickets, visit www.eventgo.co.il.