As they say, opposites attract. That is the first thought that popped into my mind when I heard about Game On, a new co-production of the Israel Ballet and Mayumana. Though these two companies aren’t explicitly opposite from one another, they don’t share much common ground.
The Israel Ballet is a classical troupe boasting technically trained dancers with repertory comprised of treasured productions such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet. Mayumana, however, prides itself on offering a universal theatrical experience. The company’s productions are a wild blend of movement, percussion, music and theater.
This weekend, they will unveil the fruits of their union with two performances of Game On in Haifa.
This marriage marks a significant step for both companies.
Last year, when Ido Tadmor was handed the reins of the Israel Ballet, he was charged with the task of updating the antiquated troupe. One of his first orders of business was to spice up its stock.
To the classics, Tadmor added creations by local choreographers as well as guest commissions by celebrity choreographers such as Dwight Rhoden and David Nixon.
With Game On, Tadmor took his initiative one step further out of the company’s comfort zone, challenging himself, his dancers and the ballet’s audience to broaden their horizons.
Over the past several years, Mayumana has become a force to be reckoned with. Working from the Mayumana House just behind the newly renovated Jaffa Port, the company has devised several blockbuster productions that have won over audiences throughout Israel and much further afield. The company spends most of its times performing abroad, with established fan bases in Europe, North and South America.
Throughout the company’s lifespan, Mayumana has collaborated with many artists; however, bringing ballet into the mix is a whole new ball game.
Game On is an interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s seminal creation The Rite of Spring. A staple in the dance world, The Rite of Spring was originally composed for Les Ballets Russes 1913 production.
Since then, the music has been taken on by choreographers the world over including Pina Bausch and Martha Graham. Last year, the international dance community celebrated a century of the opus.
Dance companies and independent choreographers presented countless interpretations of Stravinsky’s music.
When they joined forces, artistic directors Tadmor of the Israel Ballet, Boaz Berman and Eylon Nuphar of Mayumana decided that they didn’t want to create another version of The Rite of Spring, rather they wanted to use the creation as a springboard to investigate rituals in present day society. They began by looking at the infinitesimal personal interactions in an urban context.
This led them to the notion of games. Whether social, cultural or interpersonal, the element of play is present in every facet of life.
With their concept in mind, the two companies hit the studio. For Tadmor and the Israel Ballet, this meant devising movement scenarios that could depict candid moments from daily life. For Berman, Nuphar and the Mayumana team, Stravinsky’s music became the base for a percussive exploration, one that rendered new arrangements as well as original compositions.
Back together, the three artists carefully assembled a mosaic of their ideas. The result brings 27 performers onto a stage that is overflowing with energy. Pointe shoes meet rhythm boxes against a backdrop of video, lights and set pieces. At times, it is clear that there are two separate entities coexisting in the space, at others the seams between the ballerinas and “maymanot” fade away completely. What is clear is that Game On challenges and compliments both bodies equally.
Game On will be presented on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m. at the Haifa Auditorium. For tickets, visit www.barak-tickets.co.il.