Beyond our borders
By ORI J. LENKINSKI
Even with his new project on hold, choreographer Arkadi Zaides feels that ‘conflict zones are heaven for art.’
In the words of John Lennon, life is what happens when you are busy making
plans. For Arkadi Zaides, the past few weeks have been a perfect example of this
very true sentence. Zaides, an established choreographer based in Tel Aviv, was
about to launch the first incarnation of his new project Moves Without Borders.
Two artists, Eszter Salamon from Hungary and Phillip Gehmacher of Austria, were
meant to visit Israel to meet Zaides, give workshops to local dancers and begin
what will hopefully still become a beautiful new initiative in the local dance
landscape. And then the sirens went off and all of his plans went
Zaides has made himself known over the past decade as a
bold, innovative and socially aware choreographer.
His most recent works
Quiet and Land Research explore various socio-political themes. Moves Without
Borders is in many ways the natural progression of the overall statement made in
Zaides’ performances, one that reaches past the narrow scope of daily life and
yearns for further communication. The culmination of months of work was meant to
take place last week, with a performance scheduled in Tel Aviv.
Gehmacher cancelled, followed by Salamon.
Apparently the sizzling
political environment in Israel was enough to keep the visitors away. Their
cancellation, while unfortunate, only points to the necessity of Zaides’
project. In the newsletter sent out about the turn of events Zaides wrote, “The
cancelation once again reinforces our understanding that as a society, we are
continually paying a heavy price for the ongoing violence in the region. We do
hope that both Philipp and Eszter will join us in the near future.”
years, Israeli choreographers have fought the geographic isolation of the
country by touring extensively and fostering ongoing collaborations with foreign
theaters and companies. Zaides, whose career began as a dancer in Batsheva Dance
Company, was among the throng of dance artists who became accustomed to
subletting apartments and taking long flights in the hopes of embedding himself
in the international dance community.
However, in his travels, Zaides
became acutely aware of the shortcomings of tours. While performing abroad
expanded his horizons, the lasting impact of these engagements left room for the
With Moves Without Borders, Zaides plans to fill in the gaps
left otherwise open in such endeavors.
“The concept behind this project
is that it has no home,” he explained over a bowl of salad in central Tel Aviv.
“It doesn’t belong to any place. Each event is fitted to its location. The
project will present opportunities for the local community to meet and interact
with the visiting artists on many levels be it in panel discussions,
conversations, workshops or performances.
The artists don’t just come and
go. They leave a bit of themselves behind. I believe that each person involved
will create ruptures that will echo in the field long after they have returned
For this project, Zaides received support from the Goethe
Institute in Israel as well as the Austrian Embassy. Other involved bodies are
the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, Seminar Hakibbutzim in Tel Aviv and
several local theaters such as Tmuna Theater and the Teiva in
“Beyond the dance element,” explained Zaides, “this project is
connected with the academic or theoretical side of the art form. As such, it is
important to me that these organizations will take part.”
In the days
preceding what was meant to be the opening of Moves Without Borders, Zaides
himself was struggling with his existence in Israel and whether he would give in
to the pull to calmer environs abroad.
“I wasn’t born here, so for me,
the option to leave is always present. I inherited the possibility to be
transient in my body,” he said. And though he is opposed to much of what the
current government stand for, Zaides recognizes that this dissonance provides
him with a fertile ground on which to create.
“Conflict zones are heaven
for art,” he smiled.
At the same time as he had to roll up the posters
for this session of Moves Without Borders, Zaides was notified that he had
received the prestigious Landau Award from the Israel Lottery Foundation.
Granted to ten individuals in either arts or science, the prize is, if nothing
else, an indication that Zaides’ work is appreciated.
information about Arkadi Zaides, visit www.arkadizaides.com.