Sasha Waltz brings the glamour to Israel with ‘Continu’

The work is comprised of two parts, marking a journey from darkness to light.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
May 2, 2019 13:42
3 minute read.
Sasha Waltz brings the glamour to Israel with ‘Continu’

Courtesy of Bimot Global. (photo credit: SEBASTIAN BOLESCH)

While the ballet world is filled with tulle and tiaras, glamour and glitz, its sister, contemporary dance, is usually more bare bones. Contemporary productions, for the most part, deal less in fancy and more in function, in the everyday and the abstract. However, every once in a while, a choreographer comes along with a show that somehow bridges the gap between contemporary language and grandiose production. This month, German choreographer Sasha Waltz will visit Israel with one such performance. Titled Continu, the production will be presented at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. 
 
Waltz is one of Germany’s most influential artists. She began dance training at the age of five and continued to pursue this passion in Germany, the Netherlands and New York City. In 1992, as an artist-in-residence in the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, she developed a series of dialogues between dancers and visual artists. The next year, she founded Sasha Waltz & Guests with Jochen Sandig. The two then went on to establish Sophiensaele in Berlin, a center for the development of free dance and theater. In the years that followed, Waltz disbanded and reconvened the company Sasha Waltz & Guests, created scores of works for ensembles and continued to explore the relationship between dance and other art forms. This year, she began her new role as the co-artistic director of the Berlin State Ballet. 
 
Waltz’s rich repertoire includes such works as Sacre, insideout, Korper, which she presented in Israel in 2001 and Dido and Aeneas, which was presented at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center in 2008. In her works, Waltz makes bold aesthetic choices, presenting larger-than-life conceptual stage elements such as the enormous aquarium in Dido and Aeneas or the intricate entanglements of threads in the opera Matsukaze.   


 
Continu was originally made in 2010 as a staged continuum to two major site-specific events that Waltz choreographed. The first was for the opening of the Neues Museum’s new building, which had been destroyed and was reconstructed by architect David Chipperfield. The second was made for Rome’s MAXXI - National Museum of 21st Century Art, which was designed by Zaha Hadid.
Waltz, whose father was an architect, often finds inspiration in architecture, and in both cases the events took place in the empty halls of the museums, before the artworks were brought in, and the audiences could roam the place and move from one fragment of work to another. 
 
The work is comprised of two parts, marking a journey from darkness to light. In the first section, the audience is met with a stage decked out with three ornate yet daunting walls designed by Thomas Schenk, Pia Maier Schriever and Waltz. Seven women fill the charged space. Percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky beats out a rhythm on her drums, sending the women’s bodies into a wave of movement. The next section is accompanied by Edgard Varese’s Arcana. Here, we see a large group of men and women, the men in suit pants and shirtsleeves, the women in flowing evening gowns, navigate between the desire to stay together as a group and to break away as individuals. The first section ends with chaos, with dancers running through the aisles of the theater and an overall sense of unrest. 
 
In the second section, which Waltz has choreographed to music by Claude Vivier and Mozart, the dark stage design has been replaced by bright white paper. The dancers’ feet are painted, leaving traces of their movement on their environment. By the end of this section, which boasts tender duets, there is a sense of resolution. 
 
Audiences in Tel Aviv may recognize several familiar faces, such as that of Israeli dancers and longtime Waltz collaborators Michal Mualem and Idan Yoav. Mualem joined Sasha Waltz & Guests in 2000 and has been an influential force in many of Waltz’s creations since. Yoav moved to Berlin from Tel Aviv in 2013 and began working with Waltz shortly after. Both of these dancers are prominent in Continu, along with a cast of 22 dancers from 15 countries, none of whom, incidentally, is German. 
 
Sasha Waltz & Guests will present Continu at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on May 15, 16 and 17. For more information, visit www.Israel-Opera.co.il. 


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