Meetings and reunions

Flomin, 52, has sparkling blue eyes and a wide smile. In a month’s time he will present a very special duet as part of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s Tel Aviv Dance Festival.

Kazablan (photo credit: JESSE MEREDITH)
(photo credit: JESSE MEREDITH)
When Ori Flomin packed his bags and left Tel Aviv for New York City, the Suzanne Dellal Center was just being built. Then 22 years old, Flomin managed to attend a few rehearsals at the sand-strewn space in the summer of 1989, thinking he would be back shortly to see the finished product. “If you had told me then that it would take me 30 years to come back to perform, I wouldn’t have believed them,” he says over coffee in Rabin Square.
Flomin, 52, has sparkling blue eyes and a wide smile. In a month’s time he will present a very special duet as part of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s Tel Aviv Dance Festival. The program is particularly festive as it opens the 30th anniversary celebration of the center and will boast performances by several established Israelis who live abroad. For this momentous occasion, Flomin chose to bring Meeting You, a collaboration with his longtime friend and colleague, Swedish choreographer Helena Franzen.
Flomin was born in Ramat Hasharon but moved around considerably during his childhood. His homes included Toronto, Arad, Kanot and Kiryat Motzkin. After serving in the army, he relocated to Tel Aviv to begin his professional career in dance. “There was a production of Peter Pan and I was cast in it. I was saving up for my trip to New York at the time. I had a good connection with the director and he invited me to choreograph a stage revival of Kazablan afterward. We were rehearsing in Suzanne Dellal as it was being built. There was sand everywhere and we had to walk over planks to get into the studio.”
After a year-and-a-half, Flomin left his budding career in Tel Aviv in favor of New York City. Upon arriving, he quickly shelved choreography in favor of a dance career. He joined Stephen Petronio Dance Company in 1991, where he would dance for nine years and later act as rehearsal director. “It took me 15 years to start choreographing,” he notes. Flomin’s work, which includes Command/Shift/Delete, One, On My Own, All We Are, The Way Out, Mango Earrings and A Glimpse of Hope and Thread have been presented extensively throughout the world. He is a staple teacher at leading institutions such as Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (PARTS) in Brussels, The Place, the London Ballet and the Cullberg Ballet. In addition, Flomin is a Shiatsu practitioner and instructor and enjoys weaving together his body work practice with his dance teaching. He is currently in Israel for the longest chunk of time since he left, this time with a student’s cap on.
“I’m in the middle of a master’s of fine arts at New York University. I was an adjunct professor there for many years and then the opportunity arose to do a degree,” he explains. Flomin not only was accepted to pursue a master’s without having completed a bachelor’s degree, he received a fellowship from the university. This summer he is conducting research toward his thesis, which will focus on how technology and intimacy support or distract from one another in performance.
“NYU HAS a branch in Tel Aviv, so I applied to work here. It has been really wonderful seeing the local arts scene through the scope of my research. I went to the Festival of Lights in Jerusalem and suddenly saw how technology was present in a light installation on the ancient walls. I interviewed Inbal Pinto and Yasmeen Godder, because they have very special voices.”
This jaunt in Tel Aviv has allowed Flomin to reconnect with the local dance community and he is thrilled to extend the hospitality to Franzen.
“When I was contacted about performing in Tel Aviv, I knew it had to be this work,” he says. “Helena and I have known each other for years. She’s a very big deal in Sweden and is internationally recognized. We taught at the same festivals and would meet in all these different places, Copenhagen, New York, Stockholm. We would meet and have these great conversations. We both really believe in the physicality of dancing.”
The idea arose to take their friendship to the next level: collaboration. During summer courses or festivals, Franzen and Flomin would steal moments together in the studio to play around with ideas. Then, the idea of a joint creative process began to take shape. This proved challenging as the two live far from one another and have busy schedules. “I knew that I didn’t want to dance for other choreographers, but then, we loved dancing together. We received a residency in Gnesta, Sweden, in a building that used to be a beer factory. We were the first dancers to ever work there. We spent two weeks in the studio, from 10 in the morning to six in the evening. After all of the bits and pieces, suddenly we had time to really try things. It became a dance and not just an experimentation.”
Meeting You looks at non-romantic friendship, at the attraction to another person that is not sexual, at the deep ties with someone you see infrequently. To prepare, Franzen and Flomin spend time together to find the bond. “I can review the video but I don’t get back into the work until we are together,” says Flomin.
From Tel Aviv, Flomin will head to Lyon, France, to teach at fellow Israeli Yuval Pick’s center and then to Brussels to teach at PARTS. From there he will meet Franzen in the studio to prepare for the Tel Aviv performances.
Franzen and Flomin will present Meeting You at the Suzanne Dellal Center on August 11 and 12. For more information,