Stability isn’t something I strive for, but I have a negotiation with it,” says
Brighton-based choreographer Yael Flexer. Sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe with her
partner in work and life, Nic Sandiland, their five-year-old daughter and
two-year-old son, Flexer thinks about the milestone she recently reached. The
company she founded, Yael Flexer, Nic Sandiland/Dance and Digital Works
(formerly Bedlam Dance), is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Next week,
the duo will present their newest work, Weightless
, as part of the annual Hot
Flexer moved to London from Israel on a whim.
all happened by chance,” she says. “In 1993, I went to London to take classes. I
was 18. I decided to do a one-year certificate program at The Place, at the end
of which I made a piece. I was invited to teach it to the London Contemporary
Dance Theater, and then many opportunities came up. In 2003, I had a road
accident and came back to Israel to recover. Nic followed me here, brought me
back to England and made an honest woman of me,” she laughs.
the two relocated to Brighton.
“There’s a great dance scene in Brighton,
and it’s near the sea. It’s the closest you can get to Tel Aviv in England,” she
Apart from their hectic life with the company, the couple teach at
universities and work on commission for other ensembles in Europe. Flexer is
completing a PhD in choreographic portraiture with a focus on how the body
addresses an audience.
The company specializes in a combination of live
art and dance. Their performances, be they on stage or installation,
feature audience interaction, using dancers and digital elements to engage the
crowd. Flexer’s contribution comes by way of movement and text, Sandiland’s with
sound, light and video elements.
“We both deal with choreography, be it
dancers or pedestrians,” says Sandiland.
“In performance, we are very
much ourselves,” says Flexer. “It’s about making every day more
To celebrate the anniversary, the pair decided to create a
retrospective piece using an unusual approach.
“There are historic or
monumental anniversaries. We didn’t want either,” says Flexer. “We wanted
to stretch the idea of history using a form, dance, that is always disappearing.
It is an autobiographical work. It’s about me very much. I hate putting myself
at the center, but I am that history.”
, the two brought in
composers Karni Postel and Dougie Evans, as well as movement and theater artist
Wendy Houstoun. The title refers to a type of freedom that their accomplishments
have allowed them..
is about having weight. I’m a part-time
mother, a part-time academic and a choreographer. Does having a history give you
weight? Being older, more subsidized and more established doesn’t mean that you
know more or that you are more stable,” she muses. “For me, this piece offered a
type of choreographic closure. It is the last chapter of many of my works. We
began this by pulling apart previous works of ours. I spent a week watching
videos of pieces I made years ago. At 20, you have things to say that you don’t
have to say at 40. It’s wonderful. Not better, just different.”
, Sandiland visually plays with the notion of nostalgia by turning
present instantly into the past.
“We were looking at memory and how it is
fragmentary and not continuous. There is a video element that is reminiscent of
Polaroids, like shortterm memory. The images takes time to develop as the piece
is going on. It’s very low-tech in its aesthetic. It’s a technology that is
available to everyone,” he explains.
“We were working with the question
of how to make something appear nostalgic. The dancers are dancing, and there
are these snapshots that make the present the past. It puts a question mark
around history,” says Flexer.
Another element that plays a large role in
Weightless is sound.
“We have speakers around the stage. They create a
type of disembodied voice, something that is without weight,” says Flexer.“We
have people carrying the speakers around like a baby.”
“I wanted to work
with sound as something sculptural,” says Sandiland. “So there are multiple
sound sources on stage that can move, which is its own kind of
Weightless will be performed on July 27 at 9:30
p.m. at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem (for tickets, email
firstname.lastname@example.org) and on July 28 at 9 p.m. at the Suzanne Dellal Center
in Tel Aviv (www.suzannedellal.org.il).
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