The gathering ‘Storm’

Choreographer Yasmeen Godder premieres her latest piece, which takes the dancers through a series of complex psychological states.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
February 23, 2011 22:25
3 minute read.
Yasmeen Godder

Yasmeen Godder dance 311. (photo credit: Itzik Giuli)

In the epic musical A Chorus Line, the line “Everything was beautiful at the ballet” is repeated over and over by many characters. During a painful and inspired song, the desperate, struggling artists explain to one another how and why they were drawn to the stage. The overall consensus among them, and perhaps among us all, is that the beauty presented on stage rocked them to their core, forcing them to forsake more secure professions for the ups and downs of an artist’s life.

Many dancers will tell you that they were moved in this way by the work of Jaffa-based choreographer Yasmeen Godder. However, what she is dealing with is brutality, animalism and sometimes, although not often, beauty. Whereas a ballet will present you with 40 women in tutus and tiaras, twirling on their tiptoes, Godder’s creations lure her audience into darker, stranger scenes.

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Her long-awaited new work Storm End Come will premiere in Tel Aviv on February 28.

Godder hit the Israeli dance community like a tornado. At a young age, she moved to the United States with her Israeli parents. As a young adult, having completed her BA at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Godder returned home to Israel.

Her bold, chaotic and distinguishable indelicate dances caused quite a stir, gaining her a spot in the choreographic elite of Israel and the attention of several critical players in the international dance world. In 2001, she won a prestigious Bessie Award in New York for her piece I Feel Funny Today.

In the years following, she toured the world, inspiring dance lovers to look beyond the pretty picture and get in touch with the grit and grime of real emotion.

Godder’s approach to dance has changed the way many see the art of choreography; opening doors to dancers to explore facial expressions, vocalizations and movements they had not investigated before. In fact, Godder is responsible for what many see as the “culture of ugliness,” a term that sounds slightly negative yet is uttered with great admiration. Her influence can be seen in the creations of many local and international artists.

Storm End Come began in July of 2010 as a site-specific production for the Opera Estate Festival in Italy.

Godder went on to co-produce a fuller expression of the piece, which was shown in a distillery, with three bodies: The Grand Theater in Groningen, The Netherlands; Culturescapes in Basel, Switzerland; and Centra per la Scena Contemporanea in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy (home to the Opera Estate Festival). Though program notes on each work are available, it is often difficult to discern the exact intended meaning of Godder’s work, as many ideas are presented abstractly.

Godder is gifted at building and subsequently unraveling complex psychological states.

This is Godder’s ninth eveninglength work and is performed by six artists. As in the creative processes for most of her recent works, Godder worked closely with life partner Itzik Giuli on Storm End Come. The team unofficially premiered Storm End Come last week in The Netherlands, where the company was in residence, and will now present a handful of shows in Israel before setting sail again during the spring months. In April, Godder will travel to Europe with her two older creations, Love Fire and Singular Sensations, for a number of performances in Holland, Serbia, Italy and Slovenia.

In addition to her works for the stage, Godder leads workshops and classes for professional dancers and teenagers. Her semester-long workshop for pre-professional dancers has steadily grown in attendance over the past several years. She has also initiated a program for teenagers, housed in the Jewish-Arab Center in Jaffa, which uses improvisation and dance as a vehicle to promote tolerance and understanding among youth.

Storm End Come will run at the Suzanne Dellal Center on February 28, March 1, 15 and 16. For more dates and information, visit www.yasmeengodder.com. For tickets, call (03) 510-5656 or visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.


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