Charlotta Ofverholm presents 'Survival Kit' at the Tel Aviv Dance Festival..
(photo credit: HAKAN LARSSON)
When I was young, around eight or nine, my dance teacher told our class that the career of a professional dancer is tough because it is very short. “Even the best dancers stop at 35,” she informed our group. Though she had never been a professional dancer and hadn’t spent much time in the company of the pros, I believed her and carried this idea throughout my life and career as a dancer. Last summer, when I turned 36, I took a moment to reflect on what Miss Debbie had told us. It is true that most dancers, especially women, leave the stage in or before their mid-30s. But it is also true that there are women like Charlotta Ofverholm, and it is to those women that I choose to look (and I highly recommend that others do as well).
Ofverholm, 52, lives and works in Stockholm. Petite, blonde and muscular, Ofverholm is a force to be reckoned with on and off the stage. While many of her peers transitioned into other fields, Ofverholm took both hands to the wheel and steered herself into uncharted territories. Presenting topnotch dance choreographed by leading choreographers and performed by older artists is her calling card, and it is an inspiration in and beyond the field.
Her company is engaged in a transnational project called Age on Stage, which employs dancers with decades of experience under their belts. As part of this revolutionary endeavor, Ofverholm will bring a two-part program, Survival Kit, to the Tel Aviv Dance Festival this month.
The program features two duets – one by Israeli choreographer Sharon Fridman, and the other by Israelibased artist Martin Harriague, both of which are danced by Ofverholm and partner Rafi Sady.
“Rafi and I have known each other for 20 years, but we have never danced together before,” says Ofverholm. “He’s a beautiful human being, which is the most important thing of all.”
In determining which choreographers she will invite to work with her troupe, Ofverholm takes many factors into consideration. For one, she is in constant search of a new challenge.
She is also aware of the strengths and limitations of her cast, as everyone is over 45 years old.
“In the beginning, our presenters wanted really big names,” explains Ofverholm of the build of the program. “Through various exchanges we started to conceive of a different kind of evening. I saw Martin dancing a solo in Tel Aviv, and I also saw his piece Beauty and the Beast. I thought it could be interesting to work with someone younger. There is something very physical about how the young dancers do his work, and I thought it could be cool to see it on older bodies as a challenge,” she says.
“Around that time, I had surgery on my foot, and it didn’t get better.
I was really ill in hospital for a month with a staph infection and had to have three more operations. I realized that we had to do something more organic. I saw a duet of Sharon Fridman’s online that I loved. The only thing I feel sad about is that it’s two men because I believe it should be at least one man and one woman or two women,” she says.
In fact, injury is something that has dictated many critical moments in Ofverholm’s life and in the lives of her peers.
“As a young body, you don’t have injuries and problems with joints if you aren’t born with them. You can jump and do a lot of things. But if you’ve worked physically with your body very hard for 30 years, the joints will have to be exchanged. I have a new hip in my left leg,” she says. “You are maybe not as limber, can’t jump so high, turn so much. But on the other hand, you can go in and make any choreographer’s world become more interesting. You’re much more a human being when you’re older, even though the body cannot do everything it used to be able to do. As a performer, you can deliver in a more mature way. It’s hard to find one star in our group because each person, in their quiet way, will shine bright.”
Charlotta Ofverholm will present Survival Kit at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv on October 24 and 25. For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.
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