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Just hours before the Vertigo Dance Company premiered their "Birth of the Phoenix" production in New York, its associate and artistic directors found themselves in a yellow taxi-cab full of dirt. Husband and wife team, Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha'al, who have 14 years of artistic collaboration behind them, had ordered soil to be delivered to the site of their ecologically-inspired performance. But when they saw it, it did not feel "alive" to them. Realizing at the last moment that they should have asked for peat-moss instead plain soil, they hopped a cab with their kids and went shopping for the real stuff.
"Birth of the Phoenix" which deals with issues of man and his environment, adapts itself to each performance location. The dance is performed inside a geodesic dome, a structure with no foundations, composed of triangles that create pentagons and hexagons meant to reflect the geometry of the universe.
Tonight, the Vertigo Dance Company will receive the 2005 Ministry of Culture Award for Best Choreographer (Noa Wertheim) and the award for Best Ensemble for their production "Vertigo and the Diamonds," which premiered at the Tel Aviv Opera House in 2005. In 1999 the company received this same award for Best Ensemble and in 1998 Wertheim won it in the category of Young Choreographers.
Sha'al feels that the bestowal of the two prizes on the company in the same year "defines the family way we follow in this place, in which dancers are not tools in the hands of choreographers, and the office is a sister to the studio."
Sha'al, who is also the general manager, has designed the company's offices to be separated from the dance studio by nothing more than a full-length glass window. "As they rehearse, the dancers can see and feel part of the people who are working for them," he says.
Sha'al says that although Wertheim is the in-house choreographer, she also choreographs the improvisations of the dancers. "I think I have my own particular path," says Wertheim. "I think in private, but in the end, I create a mirror of what is happening in the world. I don't need to watch the news to do it... I can express my own fight."
"The Power of Balance" is another successful Vertigo Dance Company production which is still being performed five years after its initial premiere. This dance is a collaboration between professional dancers and disabled dancers. After holding a series of dance workshops for the disabled in 2000, Vertigo invited Brit Adam Benjamin to choreograph a piece. It is about finding balance, losing it, maintaining it and what that means. The Power of Balance has also become an entire department for the disabled within the Vertigo Dance Company.
"Vertigo and the Diamonds," this year's Best Ensemble winner, is a new departure for Vertigo. In it, dancers and live musicians collaborate on stage. Vertigo musical director Ran Bagno suggested sharing the stage with the Diamonds musicians as a way to filter the dance, which is about symbols and rituals such as marriage. In it, seven dancers and five musicians take to the stage to perform what has been described by critics as a "celebration."
"Vertigo and the Diamonds" upcoming performances are scheduled for February 16 in Kadima, ((09) 899 1446), and February 23 and 24 at Suzanne Dallal, Tel Aviv ((03) 510 5656).