L.A. dance troupe Bodytraffic.
(photo credit: PR)
If you are a contemporary dancer living in the Los Angeles area, chances are you are trying to get into Bodytraffic. The eight-year-old troupe is completely unique to its surroundings, providing a much-needed home for dancers, choreographers and dance lovers amid the glitter and glitz of Hollywood.
A repertory company, Bodytraffic boasts an impressive roster of works by leading choreographers from around the world. Several of them are of Israeli origin. In fact, when Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkleman Berkett founded the company, the first artists they approached were Israelis Guy Weizman and Roni Haver.
This month, Bodytraffic will solidify their connection with the country with a debut Israeli visit as the first performance in the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center’s 2015/2016 season.
“Bodytraffic is extremely excited to perform in Israel,” said Barbeito in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Her commitment to and passion for Bodytraffic oozes out of every word she utters, her whole being fully engaged in what she is doing. In the years since she and Berkett founded the troupe, both have performed in numerous works, given birth, taken leaves of absence and returned to the studio. For the two women, Bodytraffic is part of a big picture, one that is founded on the principle of community and family.
“Bodytraffic is a small ensemble that operates like a family. We are looking for fearless performers who want to make Los Angeles their home and lead balanced lives,” said Barbeito.
As for the attraction to Israeli artists, Barbeito was quick to compliment.
“I was drawn to each of our Israeli choreographers for different reasons,” she recounted. “When I reached out to Guy Weizman to inquire about creating our very first commission, it was because his [and Roni Haver’s] movement language was so unique; something that no one in LA had seen before. It was powerful storytelling that initially drew me to Barak’s work. His style is not derivative of anyone but truly his own gestural language interwoven with clever dramaturgy. Hofesh Shechter was certainly on Tina and my ‘bucket list.’ After working with him, several of our dancers said that they could now die happy. The common denominators that Weizman, Marshall and Shechter share are being grounded and having undeniable chutzpah.”
For the troupe’s upcoming visit, Bodytraffic has put together a four-part program that will include works by Hofesh Shechter, Barak Marshall, Montreal-based choreographer Victor Quijada and American artist Richard Siegel.
“Many things factor into how Tina and I select choreographers. Essentially, we are curating programs; looking for distinctive choreographic voices that will contrast well with other works that share the stage. We also consider if the choreographic process will challenge our dancers in a way that will cause technical and artistic growth,” said Barbeito.
Marshall’s And at Midnight, the Green Bride Floated through the Village Square… premiered at the Joyce Theater in New York City in 2012. The piece tells the story of a family with nine children – eight girls and one boy – who lived next door to Marshall’s mother’s family in Yemen. Their house, known locally as “The Burning House” because of all the shouting inside, became the inspiration and backdrop for this piece, which is set to old Jewish folk songs.
Shechter’s Dust is a dark and dynamic work created for six dancers. The piece premiered earlier this year in New York City and was based on a previous work of Shechter’s entitled Cult. In this work, Shechter looks at the sinister forces at play in today’s society. As with the majority of his works, Shechter composed an original score for Dust.
Once Again, Before You Go by Victor Quijada is a fusion of street and studio. Quijada’s unique style incorporates his beginnings as a hip-hop dancer with his contemporary dance training and technique. In this work, Quijada explores the emotional resonance of juxtaposing different esthetics.
Richard Siegel’s O2Joy will finish the evening with an explosion of lightness. Using ballet vocabulary with hints of hip-hop, Siegel created a 17-minute work that is bursting with energy, humor and, as the title implies, joy. O2Joy premiered in 2012 with And at Midnight, the Green Bride Floated through the Village Square….
“If I had to describe this program in three words, they would be ‘theatrical,’ ‘hip’ and ‘joyous,’” Barbeito said.Bodytraffic will perform at the Jerusalem Theater on October 14 (www.bimot.co.il); and at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on October 15, 16 and 17 (www.israel-opera.co.il).