Dance Review: Raz and Marshal

Marshal’s dance-theater creations are as contemporary as they are ethnic. They are funny, clever and convey more humanity than most other Israeli choreographers’ work.

By ORA BRAFMAN
December 25, 2011 21:27
1 minute read.
The Diplomats

The Diplomats 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Gadi Dagon)

 
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The soundtrack of The Diplomats, a new piece by independent choreographer Renana Raz, is compiled of more than a dozen national anthems, from Malta to Japan via Turkey and Aruba. A lovely idea.

Raz may have intended to detach the nationalistic and patriotic elements and exchange them with personal, emotional sentiments supplied by the dancers. Unfortunately the half a dozen eager and able performers had not one clue among them as to how to go about transforming this idea into a coherent artistic process.

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The Diplomats contained endless gestures of mock heroism, children’s games and attempts at technical bravura, alongside simplistic theatrics.

Barak Marshal’s Wonderland (part 1) demands to be extended into a full evening work. Marshal, more than most local choreographers, has a conspicuously individualistic signature that sets him apart. One of the reasons is that he plans ahead and writes up steps long before the first rehearsal, while most his contemporaries rely on image-based improvisational work with dancers in the studio. His method serves to solidify the dance’s structure.

Marshal’s dance-theater creations are as contemporary as they are ethnic. They are funny, clever and convey more humanity than most other Israeli choreographers’ work. With his famous unison acts of frame-by-frame deconstructed movement, he never loses the incredible energetic charge of the dancers.

They give it all, fueled by typical musical assemblage he favors: bits of Balkan Beat Box and the Barry Sisters’ Yiddish songs, which fits perfectly with Jascha Heifetz or Serbia’s Bakija Bakic, to name a few.

Many scenes enact a tale in the spirit of Shalom Aleichem’s shtetls, but here, too, Marshal incorporates recited texts which break the flow.

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