The path less traveled

Dancer and choreographer Adi Boutrous is premiering his original work at the Tel Aviv Dance Festival.

Batsheva Dance Company (photo credit: CAMILLA SCHICK)
Batsheva Dance Company
(photo credit: CAMILLA SCHICK)
The large majority of today’s successful choreographers – from Ohad Naharin to Nacho Duato to Inbal Pinto to Twyla Tharp – have followed a specific path. They started with dance training, followed by a lengthy period in a major company or several years working as a freelancer for high-profile choreographers before setting off on their own. Adi Boutrous has chosen to do it a little differently.
Rather than abide by that formula, Boutrous is dedicating himself simultaneously to developing as a dancer and as a choreographer. As a result, at the tender age of 24, he’s reaching a major milestone Thursday night with a production featuring his own choreography at the Suzanne Dellal Center. Set in Yerushalmi Hall, Boutrous’ evening is one of 12 programs by independent choreographers in the annual Tel Aviv Dance Festival.
Boutrous’ program includes the duet What Really Makes Me Mad, which won first place at last year’s Shades of Dance Choreography Competition, the premier of the solo Homeland Lesson and a guest performance of What Happened in Torino? by Andrea Costanzo Martini.
Boutrous has spent the past five months in the studio creating Homeland Lesson.
“The piece is about the process of leaving my family,” Boutrous told The Jerusalem Post recently, bouncing between his own rehearsals, rehearsals with a list of Tel Aviv’s emerging choreographers (Boutrous is high on the list of sought-after male dancers), costume searches and his day job at Café Sheleg.
“I grew up in a very close family. In this work I present several key moments from my past that shaped me.
One example is when my brother left the house. I was 12 years old at the time. I realize now that I wasn’t ready for it and that it had a major impact on me,” the Beersheva native said in a soft voice, exuding humility and quiet confidence.
Boutrous stuck out for Tel Aviv at the age of 18 to pursue his passion for dance.
“When I left my family I went from a place where there were seven people in the house with all this noise and emotion to the quiet of a house of one. This piece is a testimony of my geographic departure to Tel Aviv,” he explained.
Six years ago, new to the city, Boutrous made a beeline for Studio B, where he experimented with different dance styles from street to ballet. At the urging of one of his teachers, he enrolled in Naomi Perlov’s Maslool Professional Dance Program. It was there that he caught they eye of several independent choreographers, especially Iris Erez.
“Iris really influenced me,” said Boutrous of his time in the studio working on Erez’s Homesick. Coming from the academic dance of a training program, Erez’s improvisation- based practice was a breath of fresh air for Boutrous.
“I felt that I [had] discovered, through her, a new approach to dance. I adopted the tools that I learned from her and I use them to translate my fantasies into my work.”
Joining Boutrous on stage in Homeland Lesson will be guitarist Nadav Arnon.
“Nadav is a blues musician, which is a type of music I don’t usually associate with contemporary dance. He spent a lot of time in the studio with me and we also met and played music together for hours on end. I play a few instruments so we did a lot of back-and-forth with our ideas. It’s been a very enriching process.”
Boutrous emphasized that Homeland Lesson has been made possible by the prize he received from Shades of Dance, without which he would not have been able to take on the financial burden of a new creation so soon.
What Really Makes Me Mad took audiences by storm with its charm, honesty and simplicity.
Featuring Boutrous and his partner, the fabulous Stav Struz, What Really Makes Me Mad is a real-life log of the couple’s existence. Coping with their religious and cultural differences, Boutrous and Struz take taboos in stride. The undeniable chemistry between them, both on and off stage, is tangible and delightful. For his premier evening, Boutrous returned to the studio to spruce up the duet.
“We reworked the piece a bit and made some improvements,” said Boutrous.
Andrea Costanzo Martini’s What Happened in Torino? was awarded first prize for execution and choreography at the 2013 Stuttgart International Solo Dance Competition.
Martini moved to Israel from Italy in 2006 to join the Batsheva Ensemble and went on to dance in the Batsheva Dance Company, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack Dance Company and Cullberg Ballet of Sweden.
In this solo, Martini investigated the notion of visibility.
His movement is accompanied by translated quotes by Italian television celebrity Wanna Marchi.
As for Boutrous’ future, he has no intention of slowing down on either front, choreography or dance.
“I want to continue to be a dancer who works with other choreographers. I don’t want to go too fast. I want to continue to develop, to enrich my knowledge and broaden horizons. I think my creation is happening in parallel to my dancing.”
Adi Boutrous’ evening will take place on May 15 at 9 p.m.
For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.