Speed Dancing

Dana Ruttenberg presents her two-day Project 48 in Jaffa

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
September 17, 2014 15:56
3 minute read.
Dana Ruttenberg

Dana Ruttenberg presents her two-day Project 48 in Jaffa.. (photo credit: PR)

Too much of a good thing can be bad; for example, thinking.

“You’ve got to get out of your head” is a sentence often spoken by coaches, trainers and teachers as a way to snap their protégés out of cognitive hazes. A cure to this malady sometimes comes by way of speeding things up. When moving super fast, the mind is forced to focus on the essentials, filtering out extraneous noise. This approach is exactly what choreographer Dana Ruttenberg had in mind when she initiated Project 48.

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The first of its kind in the dance field, Project 48 challenges artists to throw caution and over-thinking to the wind and just create, quickly. The event, which brings together dancers, choreographers and artists over a two- day period, was designed as a sort of speed-dating dance marathon. Two 24-hour rounds of rehearsals take place, at the end of which new dance pieces are performed before live audiences.

Tonight and tomorrow night, Ruttenberg will present the second edition of Project 48 at Warehouse 2 in Jaffa.

“In such a small window of time, you don’t have time to say no to things,” explains Ruttenberg. “You don’t have time, so you just go with the ideas that you have.”

The artists arrived at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa Thursday evening. Ruttenberg had approached them weeks ago with a promise of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Beyond that, the participants had few details about the project.

To begin, a type of lottery was held to determine the five ensembles that would work together for the first 24-hour round. Each group consisted of a choreographer, a collaborating artist and a varying number of dancers. Over the course of the day, additional pieces of information such as themes were added via lotto.

“It’s like a blind date,” laughs Ruttenberg. “The artists show up not knowing who they will work with. I don’t release the list of who is part of it until they arrive so that people can’t decide in advance whom they want to work with. We have very strong ideas about the people in the field that we have and haven’t worked with. In this setting, the artists can reinvent themselves and discover new people. If the chemistry isn’t there, it’s only 48 hours.”

All the rehearsals plus interviews with the participating artists have been available via live streaming on Ruttenberg’s website.

“We chose to stream the rehearsals so that we could reach a wider audience,” she says. “Now, more than ever, we are exposed to our need for community.”

Tonight, Round One will be presented on stage. The performance will put the notion that a longer process equals better art to the test. A second lottery will be held immediately following the performance to determine the groups for the second round.

Last year, the shows were very well received, due to their experimental nature and to the high level of the pieces. Ruttenberg doesn’t take the willingness of established artists to participate for granted. In fact, she has been happily surprised by the enthusiasm of this edition’s group.

“It’s very exciting that it’s going to happen a second year because each time that it happens, it gives more people courage to take part in it. The more established you are, the scarier it is to fail,” she says.

The second edition of Project 48 is a firm step towards realizing a vision of Ruttenberg’s.

“It was my dream that it would happen once a year. I wanted to add choreographers and dancers from abroad, but that will have to wait. I have a lot of ideas of how to choose the people that will take part in it. It isn’t a project that fits everyone. The people who choose to take part aren’t afraid to play,” she says.


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