Changing objects, changing phases

Renowned Israeli choreographer and dancer Tamar Borer presents her new Butoh piece, ‘Meta,’ in Jaffa.

November 19, 2017 21:25
2 minute read.
Changing objects, changing phases

TAMAR BORER’S latest dance piece, ‘Meta.’. (photo credit: JEWBOY)


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Though the objects in her new work have all appeared in previous performances, Tamar Borer does not see Meta as a retrospective. Instead, the seasoned Butoh artist refers to the creation as a metamorphosis.

“Maybe within that change there is a look back at what was, what came before, but it’s about a change that raises things above where they once were, not just in shape but in content and material as well. We must accept that what was is dead and treat what is as a new life. Each piece in this work is about a different type of metamorphosis.”

Borer sits in the middle of her studio surrounded by curious artifacts. A heap of crinkly black paper lies to her left, a fluff of cream-colored wool is strewn in front of her. To her rear are two bowls, one of enamel and the other a type of bird’s nest. Large, white, oval objects sit astride her knees. In the 55-minute duet she has just rehearsed together with the formidable and enigmatic Noa Shavit, Borer has called each item into play. Some of the interactions are short, some playful, others weighted.

The piece will premiere on Monday night at Hateiva in Jaffa.

“We are building an entirely black space in Hateiva,” Borer says. “It will be like a long tunnel at the end of which is a Pandora’s box into which all of the sets and costumes disappear.”

Borer’s studio is the opposite of the space she is describing. Quiet, serene, airy and completely white, the space evokes a peace that is nearly impossible to find elsewhere in its noisy, south Tel Aviv environs. As they finish the run of the piece, Borer’s white Labrador retriever, Ongi, perks up from her place near the door. She makes a slow loop through the objects, visits with Borer for a few moments and then returns to sleep on her mat. The measured pace of her steps matches the work, which is Borer’s newest invocation of the Japanese Butoh style.

There are no sudden movements in this work, rather a slow unraveling of one idea after the other. Costumes are donned and sloughed off, props are handled and set down. Borer and Shavit are not in a rush, rather they exhibit a touching focus and dedication to each and every movement.

In her program notes, Borer lists each and every object in Meta, a kind of family tree of belongings. The blue dress originated in 1999 in Mamma-Ma, the bird’s nest was a gift from her grandmother. These references are mirrored in the soundtrack, a combination of spoken word and soundscapes. A paraphrase from the poetry that accompanied Borer’s duet with Tamar Lamm, Hevel, pops out towards the middle of the piece. Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg Variations” ring out. Borer throws out words from different texts, chiming in with her own personal associations throughout.

The process for this work spanned nearly a year, she explains.

“We met twice a week, consistently, since last winter.”

This is Borer and Shavit’s first time sharing the stage together and it appears the connection has sprouted deep roots. While Borer, whose legs were paralyzed in a car accident nearly three decades ago, occupies the lower half of the space, Shavit’s tall frame fills the air. There is a strange harmony between their two forms, one that is both vulnerable and powerful.

Borer will present Meta Monday and Tuesday night at 9 p.m. at Hateiva. For more information, call (03) 682-2403.

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