For the love of the game

Delight in finding the real-life people behind Club Guy & Roni.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
July 25, 2019 22:27
4 minute read.
For the love of the game

'Tetris Mon Amour' . (photo credit: ANDREAS ETTER)

Though most Israeli dancers have heard of the duo names Guy and Roni, they probably know very little about the people behind it. In fact, when people speak of Guy and Roni there is a sense of mystery surrounding the choreographic pair. Their success is known but not much else, including gender, age and whereabouts. The founders and directors of the Groningen-based dance and interdisciplinary company Club Guy & Roni, these two artists are hard to pin down, but when one manages to do so it is a delight.
I met with Guy Weizman and Roni Haver for coffee in Habima Square in Tel Aviv. They arrived a few minutes early and easily passed through the crowded café to my table. Haver wore a long black dress with bright lipstick and Weizman a black T-shirt with a slim gold necklace lightly glittering atop. Partners in work and life, Haver and Weizman are parents to an 18-year-old son. Were they still residents of Israel, he would be preparing to enter the army but instead is most likely throwing a modest party in their Dutch home at present.

“He’s a very good kid,” smiles Weizman. Haver and Weizman are the type of people who make real eye contact. They engage and are immediately likeable and disarming.

The two are in town for vacation, something they rarely take, and will return in August to present their work in Israel for the first time. Though their success abroad is unquestionable and their standing among the Dutch cultural elite a given, an invitation to perform in their hometown has been elusive until now. The proper moment arrived a few months ago when Yair Vardi, the departing artistic director of the Suzanne Dellal Center, folded Haver and Weizman into his plans for a grandiose thirtieth anniversary celebration for the center, which also happens to be the annual Tel Aviv Dance Festival.

“It was something that we wanted but didn’t happen,” says Haver. “Now we are coming back to Israel after 20 years abroad with one piece.”

“One piece that will represent 20 years of work,” adds Weizman. In the two decades since they left Israel, Haver and Weizman have touched on nearly every legendary dance hub in Europe. In Tel Aviv, they danced in the Batsheva Ensemble. With Ohad Naharin’s blessing and support, they decided to make a go of it abroad. Haver was invited to join Brussels-based Ultima Vez, and Weizman got a job dancing for Anna Teresa de Keersmaker’s Rosas. They migrated to Barcelona, where they danced together for Juan Carlos Garcia’s Lanonima Imperial. From Spain, they continued west where they joined forces with fellow Israeli Itzik Galili.

“WE DANCED for Itzik in Amsterdam and then moved with him to Groningen,” says Weizman. After all of that traveling, neither expected to settle down in northern Holland but two decades later, they still call Groningen home. Today, their company, Club Guy & Roni, has a multiple-studio complex and performance space at their disposal. Weizman is also the artistic director of the Noords Nederlands Toneel, a major theater company. Traveling is still a major part of their lives, however, so Haver and Weizman have begun setting some clear boundaries to make their jet-setting lifestyle more manageable. After years of bouncing around European and North American capitals making work for other renowned dance companies, Club Guy & Roni now moves around as a package deal. “We take our dancers with us when we go to make work on other companies now,” explains Haver.

“It really helps with the process. We have each other but it’s so wonderful to have people around who understand us, who we don’t have to explain ourselves to.”

Their body of work includes an eclectic list of repertoire that mashes together visual arts, live music, theater and movement. The production they chose to come home with, Tetris Mon Amour, is a collaboration with drum and bass legend Thijs de Vlieger, of ensemble NOISIA, and the Slagwerk den Haag band. Though Israeli audiences will undoubtedly take note of the complex production, Haver and Weizman consider Tetris Mon Amour to be their simplest show.

“We are super maximalists,” laughs Weizman. “We come from very physical backgrounds but for like 15 years, we got very far away from that. Our work became very interdisciplinary. With this one we really pared down. Our other works are very big. This one is pretty simple, practical to travel with.” Tetris Mon Amour is performed by a cast of seven dancers and a musical ensemble.
Of the 1990s gaming inspiration, Haver explains, “I was hooked on Tetris when I was younger. I don’t play computer games but I got really into it. The show doesn’t look like Tetris but the principle is in there.”

“It’s a metaphor for life,” adds Weizman. There are no straight lines in nature. That is a human invention. We try to put everything in its right place but it gets faster and faster and we can’t. The ‘mon amour’ part is about the impossible attempt to love it” 

Club Guy and Roni will present Tetris Mon Amour on August 12, 13 and 14 at the Suzanne Dellal Center. For more information: suzannedellal.org.il.


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