CHOREOGRAPHER OMER UZIEL and ‘Charlie.’ 370.
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
It was a balmy, early summer night. Rookie choreographer Omer Uziel was taking a
walk down Shenkin Street to contemplate his proposal for the upcoming Shades of
Dance Choreography Competition. He knew that he wanted his inaugural
choreographic venture, a solo, to include an animal reference.
knew that he wanted it to deal with the loss of childhood naivety. However, what
animal and how he would convey his attempts to grapple with maturing were as yet
And then he saw Charlie, or rather, the stuffed animal that
would come to be known as Charlie and would eventually give his name to Uziel’s
first solo. “I was walking down the street at midnight and I just saw him
there,” Uziel said of the large stuffed unicorn. “He was thrown out on the
sidewalk, dejected, lonely. He was looking at me and I was looking at
him. So I grabbed him and took him home with me on my bike.”
would be Charlie and Uziel’s first joint venture. Two months later, Uziel sees
Charlie as a fellow performer, a mascot and symbol of the solo/duet that he will
present later this month during the Shades of Dance Choreography Competition at
the Suzanne Dellal Center.
Uziel is a tall fellow with a thin frame and
kind eyes. He began his career in the professional training program of Dede
For the past several years he has worked as a freelancer
in Tel Aviv, dancing in works by Maya Brinner, Yuval Goldstein and Dana
Ruttenberg while moonlighting as a bartender.
Taking the leap into
choreography has proved surprising for Uziel. “I feel that this experience has
brought out a type of split personality in me,” he laughed. “I am the producer,
the choreographer and the dancer all at the same time.
Sometimes I will
wake up in the morning and the choreographer in me will want to run out the door
to the studio. But then I stop and think, ‘no, Omer, your dancer needs breakfast
so that he can work,’ so I eat something. Then, in rehearsal, the dancer and the
choreographer are totally engaged but the producer needs to kick them out
because our time is up for the day. At the end, it’s all powered by the same
engine and when that engine putters out, it all stops. I’ve had to work on
balancing the roles out.”
Shades of Dance is under the artistic
directorship of Clipa Theater founder Idit Herman. She was appointed prior to
the last competition, in 2011, and was invited back to select and mentor the
emerging choreographers of Shades of Dance. Over the past several months, Herman
has conducted workshops, meetings and showings with the six chosen
To begin, Herman presented the artists with a theme: the
100th anniversary of the premier of Les Ballets Russes’ production of
Stravinsky’s Right Of Spring. In the century since, many choreographers, among
them Pina Bausch, Lester Horton, Mary Wigman and Maurice Bejart, have
reinterpreted this seminal work.
“When I heard that the theme was Rite Of
Spring, I immediately knew that I wanted to create something about the
transition from being young to being an adult, “ explained Uziel. “I just turned
30 this year and I felt that is was both a crisis and a revelation. In my piece,
I investigate the ritual of transitioning into a new phase. The piece exists in
a dream that I created in which I deal with my lost childhood dreams and
fantasies. This dream world is very fantastic. It is plasticky and electronic
and more than a bit cynical.
“I wanted to preserve a kind of carelessness
in this piece. There is a certain freedom you have when you are young, knowing
that everything is open, that the possibilities are endless. I’m not saying it’s
a bad thing, but I will never be 20 again. The things I could do at 20 I can’t
Uziel and Herman met two years ago, during the previous
Shades of Dance. “I was dancing in a piece by Yuval Goldstein then, so I got to
meet her in the studio several times. In this process, Idit has been very
supportive of me.
We have a very open dialogue. She has become the
unofficial dramaturge of the piece. She asks important questions that help me to
clarify my intentions. Idit really believes in connecting with the audience. My
hope is to give the audience something very clear and accessible with this piece
and I believe she’s helped me to do that.”
Musician Naduve, whose
electronic beats draw the piece further into the dream world of Uziel’s vision,
will join Uziel and Charlie the unicorn on stage. “Naduve uses a lot of bird
calls and forest sounds. He distorts them to make them sound fake, which
connects for me with the loss of childish illusions.”Shades of Dance
will take place from August 28- 31 at the Suzanne Dellal Center. For more
information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.