The life of a dancer is not easy – the auditions, the rehearsals, the travel. That means that for many dancers, the idea of “home” is a constant state of flux. This is the story that choreographer Idan Sharabi tells in his latest work, Interviews/ Makom.
The piece had its Israeli premiere on December 6 as part of the International Exposure Festival. There will be three more shows in Israel on December 26 (Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv), December 28 (Inbal Arts Center in Tel Aviv) and December 29 (Fringe Theater in Beersheba).
Like its central theme of home, Interviews/Makom is in a continual state of flux, a work of progressions, which changes as the lives of its performers change.
First presented as Interviews at the Machol Shalem Dance Festival in Jerusalem in 2014, it made its way that year to Vancouver’s Chutzpa! Festival and evolved into Makom, which was performed at The Hague’s Korzo Theater before becoming its present version of Interviews/Makom.
This month may have been its Israeli premiere, but Sharabi is quick to add that it is certainly not its premiere.
“Let’s say it is like a piece that is always in progress – it’s like a never-ending work.” But he also emphasizes, “It is not performed as a work in progress. Every time is a [new] performance.”
Sponsored by the Israeli National Lottery and the Culture and Sport Ministry, the show, Sharabi explains, is “an autobiography of whoever is dancing.” In its current form, five dancers (four Israelis – Dor Mamalia, Dafna Dudovich, Noa Mamrud, Sharabi – and Japanese dancer Ema Yuasa) perform.
“It is a lot about the people’s lives. It is about my getting in tune with them… so there’s a process behind it,” he says.
The piece is based on Sharabi’s interviews with the participants and the experiences that they had evolved through over a period of time.
“Now you can meet Ema,” Sharabi smiles as she walks through the door of his apartment in Jaffa.
She has been staying with Sharabi while they are working together. The two met when they were members of the Nederlands Dans Theater company, where Sharabi danced from 2006-2010 after studying at Juilliard, and have collaborated on multiple projects.
“Interviews/Makom is basically based on Ema and her story in relation to her different apartments in Japan and Holland,” Sharabi explains.
Yet even as he acknowledges that she told him the original story in 2014 when he began working on the piece, every performance requires Yuasa to bring it into the here and now.
“She has to bring herself to this date, to this place. She cannot not be connected to what she is telling you, even though she wrote for me what she thinks home is back in the beginning of 2014,” the choreographer explains.
Sharabi says the word “makom” (“place” in Hebrew) came into its own following the interviews he carried out over the past few years with non-dancers and dancers alike coming from different cultures and political beliefs.
“I ended up just focusing on interviews I had with my dancers and the main person in the work,” he says.
They don’t have “characters,” he is quick to explain, but rather are telling the real-life stories of the performers.
“We’re trying to open up on stage and share.”
Sharing the stories of what home is, while ultimately relatable to every person, also weaves a tapestry of varied human realities.
“My story ties into Ema’s story,” Sharabi says. “She’s Japanese and has nothing to do with Dafna’s story – she sounds like a spoiled American girl, she was just talking bull all the time. And her story runs into Dor’s story. And Dor is completely another ‘character’ – he is witty, and the way he talks about home is completely different. Everyone is very, very different. Then we have this very melancholic, serious girl. With her, I was asking about things she didn’t know, so the interview went into another place: She doesn’t know where home is. She is literally homeless right now, only renting, and she decided to stay that way until the end of the creation.”
Home, clearly, can be so many things, depending on the person and the circumstance. Sharabi says it is also something the dancers have to feel on stage.
“The more we feel at home in the work, then it is going to come out. But if one of us doesn’t feel at home, even if it is musically or technically, or even if you don’t feel at home because the group does not allow you to...” he trails off, “because it should feel like a family, even if we hate each other some days. It has to be the sensation of ‘We’ve only got one, and that is it.’” But even with all these relatable definitions of home, there is one question that gets Sharabi, and he laughs long and hard before answering: “If this is based on the experience of the dancer, how can you, as the choreographer, choreograph her feelings? How do you know you’re right?” “I think that is a great question,” Sharabi says between guffaws.
For more information about the show, visit www.idansharabi.com.