THE 1920s Hollywood glamor of the Maria Kong Dancers Company’s ‘Stand Up For Your Rights.’.
(photo credit: ASKAF)
When you go to a dance performance, the first thing you usually see in the program notes is the name of the choreographer.
At Tuesday’s premier of Maria Kong Dancers Company’s Stand Up For Your Rights at the Suzanne Dellal Center, audiences will find “Maria Kong” in this category.
Part of the company’s mandate is to function as a team of equals. Thus, Stand Up For Your Rights has been cultivated together by the group. For the past five years, most of the talk about this unusual creative ensemble has unfortunately missed the point, focusing on private funders and previous employers rather than noting that the company is trying to do something that few have succeeded at in the past: to exist as a truly collaborative entity.
“We share our ideas, visions and our lives together,” said founder and director Talia Landa. “A lot of people are lonely out there creating. It’s really hard. We think together and that’s a real gift we have working as a team. We don’t have mirrors in our studio so we reflect our weaknesses and our strengths to one another.
Our ideas are born and challenged by each other.”
The process for Stand Up For Your Rights was the most diffused and leaderless to date.
The five dancers of the company, Artour Astman, Caroline Boussard, Anderson Braz, Luciane Castro Fontanelle and Landa spent countless hours in the studio researching, developing, editing and brainstorming. As one would expect, there were many clashes during this time, which are part and parcel of working the way Maria Kong has chosen to work.
“There’s resistance all the time,” explained Landa.
“With no resistance there is no existence. You get used to someone having an idea and someone saying ‘I don’t think so.’ There’s no saying no, there’s always a conversation about it. It’s like an energy ball that moves through the team that creates a web that creates a frame or a puzzle made of pieces. It’s quite extraordinary.”
The story of Stand Up For Your Rights begins at the beginning of the 20th century with the first radio transmission.
“We start to transmit a being, it’s a super-intelligence maybe, but we don’t know exactly what this being is.
The being starts to catch onto these radio waves, she starts to fall in love with the stories she hears and gets connected to humanity. She decides to create her own talk show called ‘Stand Up For Your Rights.’ She starts to transmit back and as she does she gets drawn into humanity and is left with some questions about becoming human,” said Landa.
The look of this piece evokes 1920’s Hollywood glamor thanks to costumes and styling by Odeliya Shimoni and Artour Astman. Music by Tal Ben-Ari and lighting by Shachar Werechson give the piece a groovy, otherworldly ambiance.
A big part of the Maria Kong lifestyle is travel, which partly explains why the company is less visible than its Tel Aviv counterparts. Another is that the company has stayed away from conventional performance spaces of late.
“We perform at a lot of private events. We did a show at the Barby with live music. We go to galleries and theaters all over the world. We haven’t performed at Suzanne Dellal in a long time but we felt that this is what we had to do with this show. It’s the right time and the right place for it,” Landa explained.
She went on to explain that while visibility is important to them, becoming a major dance company in Tel Aviv is not at the top of their bucket list. Instead, the members of Maria Kong aim to continue to explore the ways in which they can collaborate fully and to stay together.
“The Maria Kong journey is about finding our place in the performing arts community.
It’s a survival game,” said Landa. “We want to stay together as a team and keep doing great things, which is a big challenge in today’s reality. I think together we are finding a language that is beyond borders and passports. Stand Up For Your Rights is about that, about finding your way and not blaming anybody else for it.
You have to find your path and your colorful journey.”Stand Up For Your Rights will be presented at the Suzanne Dellal Center on Tuesday at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.mariakong.com.