Keren Avner in ‘Tiempo de Mariposa' 370.
(photo credit: Elad Duby)
There’s much more to flamenco than theatrical makeup, puffy dresses and flowers
in your hair.
When it comes to “flamenco puro” – the pure or authentic
Spanish dance – Keren and Avner Pesach would argue that there’s nothing fake or
exaggerated about it.
“We will break the stigma,” says Keren, a flamenco
dancer and one half of the Remangar Flamenco Dance Company in Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem’s Ramat Rachel, which she runs with her composer and dancer
“[Flamenco] is the way that life comes... you are really
The emotional, dramatic angles of yourself. In
Remangar’s new show, Tiempo de Mariposa, (Time of a Butterfly) showing at
Suzanne Dellal in Tel Aviv this week, a woman is caught between her competing
desires to please those around her and to pursue her passion for dance. In a
frenzy of quick and sleek moves, Keren, the lead dancer and co-artistic director
with Avner, who also wrote the music, transforms from being the woman into a
flapping butterfly. With four other dancers, two vocalists, two guitarists, a
percussionist and spoken text, the show promises to be an energetic
“It’s a very creative, very sexy outlook,” says Keren, adding that
she brings sadness, happiness and every other emotion to her performances. A
year and a half ago when their second child, a daughter, Shachar, was born,
Keren got to thinking about the swift passage of time and how she balances the
high emotions and stresses of being a wife, mother and artist. She realized life
was moving all too quickly and she was constantly asking herself if she was
making the right choices in her career and for her family.
questions,” she says. “It stays with me until today.”
Like the butterfly
who has a very short, intense lifespan, Keren was finding life complicated,
aside from its fast pace. The company even put the show together much faster
than usual (three to four months rather than the usual eight). She admits that
at times she felt that common and occasional urge to just run away from it
“The subject of time is very present,” she says of the 80-minute
Keren, who was born in Ra’anana and is half Polish and half
Persian, started dancing at the age of 10. She went on to study flamenco for a
decade in Spain, including at the Amor De Dios Academy in Madrid. It was there
that she met her husband, who also moved to Spain in 1996 to study at the
Avner, a Jerusalem native born to a Bolivian mother, spoke
Ladino at home. At 13, he began learning to play the classical guitar, but moved
to dance after he suffered a hand injury. Together, Keren and Avner danced in
the prestigious La Farruco dance company, and had their first child, a son,
Yarden, in Spain. In 2006 they decided to move back to Israel to be near
Wanting to further the place of Flamenco dance in Israeli
culture, the Pesachs decided to open their own dance company in 2006 to teach
their craft to all ages and to continue performing.
“They didn’t have a
place to progress,” says Keren of a small community of dancers in Israel.
Starting out with only eight girls, today they teach 150 students in Tel Aviv
twice a week, Rishon Lezion once a week and Jerusalem twice a week. “They come
from the North to the South,” she adds.
Teaching dance holds a special
place in Keren’s heart, after a charismatic teacher introduced her to different
varieties of dance like modern and classical, and eventually to Flamenco. “I
think that I fell in love at the first meeting,” she says. It was because of the
teacher, she says, that she quickly developed a personal connection to flamenco.
“A teacher is a very, very important thing,” she says. “I think the essence is
Keren also was drawn to the rhythm of flamenco music and
the extensive coordination and balance required, making it more challenging for
her than other types of dance.
Despite the stereotype Keren says she has
noticed of flamenco in popular culture as a less serious art form, she thinks
its popularity is growing in Israel. Also to help with its popularity, Keren
says audiences leave her company’s shows seeing things they had not
“It’s not easy for us in Israel,” she says. “Receiving support
took time.”Tiempo de Mariposa will be held August 16 at 9 p.m. and
August 17 at 10 p.m. at Suzanne Dellal in Tel Aviv.