Dance: Four walls

This year’s Room Dances Festival features pieces inspired by poetry.

December 15, 2016 19:08
4 minute read.
Shelly Palmon

Shelly Palmon. (photo credit: YESHAYAHU RABINOWITZ)

For the duration of his long and impressive career, Prof. Amos Hetz has carefully considered the fourth wall. At 82 years of age, the teacher, choreographer and performer has put it up, torn it down, looked through it, over it and around it in search of an honest and intimate audience experience. All this contemplation of the fourth wall propelled Hetz to create a festival dedicated to a fourwalled structure, the room. Next weekend in Tel Aviv and the following weekend in Jerusalem, Hetz will reveal the 28th annual Room Dances Festival.

This year’s program is centered on the connection between poetry and dance. Hetz writes, “In this year’s festival, we present the connection between physical action and spoken word, the bond between dance and poetry.

The dances this year are fruits of a dialogue held by choreographers with the written word and dances that were inspired by poetry. Our bodies serve us daily for artistic endeavors: theater, painting, music and dance – which is the artistic expression of the moving body. In dance, just as in language, we can follow patterns – sentences comprised of gestures – syllables, built of states and movements. We invite the audience to get close to our attempts at connections between dance and poetry. In most of the dances, the connection is implied. That said, we hope that the audience will experience the poetry that is within them.”

The program has been divided into four evenings, each of which features dance works performed by small ensembles. Each work attempts to blur the line between audience and performer, offering viewers a closer, more personal vantage point on the creations.

Program 1 begins with Shelly Palmon’s Trinken, a solo drawn from Romanian poet Paul Celan’s “Death Fugue.”

“Celan’s canonical poem ‘Death Fugue’ constituted a distinct space for me to relate to and realize a rhythmic foundation, not just as an aesthetic necessity but as a groundwork for expressing passion and emotion,” she writes.

Amos Hetz will perform the solo Poems without Words.

To create this work, Hetz selected poems that inspired him, then created a method with which he turned that inspiration into movement. Finally, Hetz was left with a movement score, an echo of poetry – however, with no words at all.

Nava Frenkel will present I Look After, a solo in which she revisits moments from her previous works. By embodying parts that were performed by other dancers, Frenkel can mark the difference between her own interpretation of the roles and that of her dancers.

Sigal Bergman and Lia Bergman will present an excerpt from Pale Fire, inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s poem of the same name.

“Through the prism of the poem, I reflect on time as viewed at age 50 (my own age) and at 17, though the daughter of my identical twin sister, who joins me onstage.

The piece examines how youth and maturity mix and collide in an intergenerational performance,” writes Bergman.

Program 2 includes works by Talia de Vries, Tami Leibovits and Anat Shamgar. De Vries’s Figures3 is a duet inspired by photography and stillness. As for her references, de Vries quotes Louise Bourgeois: “…Things can be repaired. I do not quite believe in the Phoenix, that things die and resuscitate. I am rather areligious.

But I have some faith in the symbolic action. Wanting to repair the past involves the experience of guilt, and guilt is present in all my work.”

Tami Leibovits’s Dances of Rooms looks at everyday actions in a new light. Leibovits sees the reading of poetry as an intrinsically intimate act. As such, she constructed a solo out of movements she makes in her home daily. Their juxtaposition in the performance arena both fosters and challenges that closeness.

Anat Shamgar’s work is a trio that will be performed by Shamgar and two male dancers. Shamgar sees this piece as relating to every piece made before it.

“The dance becomes a container to the possibility of…holding the fruits of its inspiration and letting them go,” she writes.

In Program 3, Keren Shemi takes a literal approach to the task. Working with two definitions of the word mishkal – “weight” and “meter” – Shemi created a study of rhythm and bodies. Yair Lisaey’s Customs was inspired by The Subject Tonight Is Love, Daniel Landinsky’s interpretations of 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz’s writings. Orit Shaul’s duet I Am That takes a realist approach to dance and poetry.

“As in Israel Eliraz’s poem, I offer in this work a lyrical outlook which is simple and real, like the falling of a leaf, like a peeling of an apple,” she says.

Finally, Natalie Afriat will perform her solo Fine Tuning, which was inspired by the poem by David Avidan of the same name.

This year, Japanese performer Junko Wada will present Makura as Program 4. Makura, or “pillow,” refers to a type of writing that expresses inner thoughts and was practiced 1,000 years ago in the Heian period in Japan. Acclaimed painter and dancer Wada took this tradition as the canvas for her solo.

The Room Dance Festival will take place on December 22 to 25 at Hateiva in Jaffa; and on December 28 to 31 at the Gerard Behar Center in Jerusalem. For more information, visit

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