The science of dance

Art and science meet on the dance stage as part of the Jerusalem Municipality’s NanoArt Lab initiative.

December 20, 2016 22:17
2 minute read.

‘ISHEKET’. (photo credit: ELI KATZ)


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When choreographer Maayan Liebman- Sharon put her eye to one of many microscopes in Dr. Ofra Benny’s laboratory for cancer research, she saw movement.

“Seeing cancer cells under a microscope, their movement was fascinating,” says Liebman-Sharon regarding the new duet Isheket/116 Reasons, which will be presented as part of the Hebrew University and the Jerusalem Municipality’s NanoArt Lab 2016. “They move in this small asymmetrical way. That’s where the research began.”

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NanoArt Lab is an initiative that brings together scientists and artists. The project began in 2015, when ensembles of artists and scientists were put together. Tonight, after a full year of work, the project will be unveiled in a one-time performance at Jerusalem’s Maison de France. Each team was given the concept of the nanometer, an invisibly small measurement used often in the scientific spheres.

For Liebman-Sharon, the process for this creation was unusually long. “They gave us a lot of time to explore before our first presentation, about half a year. We sat together with Dr. Benny and discussed how we would start this journey. We didn’t want to illustrate the science in dance, we wanted something that would take the ideas that she researches and make them very personal to us.”

Together with her partner, video artist Yaara Nirel, and dancers Michal Agasi and Maya Reshef, Liebman-Sharon began to connect to the smallest particles in the human body. By exploring the movement of the cell, the team could generate movement material that felt both expressive and precisely on topic.

At various points in the process, Dr.Benny visited the studio to see how the work was coming along. “It was an incredible thing to have Dr. Benny walk in and see what we were doing and to hear her say, ‘this is exactly what happens to us.’ We realized that there is a lot of common ground between what she is doing and what we do. I think that our process was very influenced by Dr. Benny, and that her work was influenced by the time she spent with us.”

The video element was an inseparable part of the process.

“The piece isn’t dance with video, it is a dance piece in video. In this work, we had to cope with the overwhelming wave of information in our technological world.

We worked in many layers, Yaara filmed the dance and then she played with the video.

We played with the material within the creation. It was important for us that all the elements understood one another.”

The NanoArt Lab will take place tonight at the Maison de France. For more information call (053) 335-8210.

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