(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
When choreographer Sally-Anne Friedland was commissioned to make a work for her visit to the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre in New York City, she created a short dance called Borders. "It was like an unfinished symphony," Friedland explains, "I knew I would come back to it one day."
Three years later, Borders has become what Friedland calls the "cornerstone" of her latest creation. Like its predecessor, A Private Collection investigates "intimate borders, personal borders, how far we can go and what we need for protection."
But this new work goes deeper, with three sections that take the audience on a multi-layered, visually luscious journey. Opening with dancers spread across the floor in frozen positions and covered with pastel-colored sheets of tulle, "Yesterday" conveys the sense that something has already happened. The dancers soon come alive, cleverly manipulating the nets to become bustles or bridal veils.
In "Today," the middle section, Friedland provides an often humorous take on life through a series of situations. One duo dons gloves to box each other, three dancers portray sisters and another dancer acts like "a bride running around, looking a bit like Miss Havisham from Dickens."
Closely based on Borders, the final section, "Tomorrow," moves away from the parody of "Today" into a more elevated realm. Friedland reveals that long curtains of tulle "stand like bars on the stage" and provide privacy for each dancer. These curtains eventually lift, reflecting the choreographer's own optimism. Friedland explains, "My hope is that everybody's borders, whether they're international borders or private borders, are respected and accepted, and there's an open space, free for everybody."
It took a collection of devoted artists working in diverse art forms to bring Friedland's rich array of ideas to fruition. "It's not a one man show," the choreographer gratefully acknowledges. For this production, Friedland worked with six gifted dancers from her Dance Drama Company and also enlisted the talents of costumer Sasson Kedem, set designer Paula Miovdovnik and lighting designer Shai Yehudai to create her visual effects. Sound designer Shashoo developed an eclectic score blending Franz Schubert and Philip Glass's compositions along with music from the movies Kill Bill and Full Metal Jacket.
While such partnerships are often an integral part of dance-making, Friedland also found some more unusual collaborators in video artist Liat Freund and photographer Pnina Even-Tal. Freund and Even-Tal attended every rehearsal, documenting the choreographic process. Friedland notes that at times, seeing the work through others' lenses gave her a push in a new direction and spurred her onward.
Rather than keep this process secret, A Private Collection offers glimpses into Friedland's creative workings by interspersing Freund's short videos in between sections. Here, nothing is hidden from the audience. Laughing, Friedland recounts that Freund "saw the good, the bad and the ugly in the rehearsals, and she's put it all into this video." The video, which includes some of Even-Tal's photographs, also takes a cue from movies and gives each artist proper credit at the end of the performance.
Although the video certainly will enable the audience to connect to A Private Collection, Friedland believes that the essence of her dance will also attract viewers. As she prepares for her premiere at the Suzanne Dellal Center, Friedland explains, "I hope that my message is positive, and that each person will find their own private collection in this work and be able to identify with the work. Especially in the part of the necessity of intimacy and privacy."
A Private Collection premieres on July 19 at 9 p.m. the Suzanne Dellal Center; (03) 510-5656 and plays at the Performing Arts Center in Herzliya on July 20 at 9 p.m.; 1-700-70-29-29. Tickets at both venues are 120 NIS.