The Rina Schenfeld Dance Company.
(photo credit: GADI DAGON)
The expression “The show must go on” is bandied around very often. For the performing artist, however, the significance of this notion is very great. No matter what happens, whatever personal issues, natural disasters or political clashes occur, the show will go on. But sometimes there are events so powerful that they enter the show, changing it forever. The show may go on, but it is not the same show.
Over the summer, Rina Schenfeld and her dancers gathered together to rehearse a new creation, which is still in progress. This work, entitled Don’t Go Now, will premiere next week at the Suzanne Dellal Center.
Amidst sirens and stress, the company members dutifully trekked to Schenfeld’s north Tel Aviv studio, where they tried to focus their energies on the task at hand.
“We don’t have a shelter in the studio, so we would huddle together in the bathroom,” explains Schenfeld.
For Schenfeld, who has witnessed every Israeli war since the establishment of the state, the studio is the best place to be during times of strife.
“I have danced during every war that Israel has had. Dance is about the ingredients of life, be they love, optimism, joy or loneliness, fear and death,” she says.
“We started the piece with Israeli songs by Idan Raichel, Shlomo Artzi and Shlomi Shaban. I don’t know where it came from, but something in me wanted to feel Israeli, to connect to my Israeliness,” she explains.
Then, one Friday afternoon, after the dancers had left the studio, Schenfeld received notice that the brother of longtime company member Chemi Goldin had been captured while on army duty.
“At first, all we knew was that he was missing,” says Schenfeld. “I was very concerned. In the days that followed, I went back and read the lyrics of the songs that we had been working with in the studio. One of the songs was “Don’t Go Now” by Shlomi Shaban. Suddenly I found new meaning in the words. They really spoke of the war.”
A short time later, the country was informed that Lt. Hadar Goldin had fallen in combat.
“We all went to the funeral together, which was a very powerful experience for all of us. I was and continue to be very moved by Chemi’s family’s strength,” she says.
The Goldin family, Schenfeld goes on to say, has just received a new member. Chemi’s wife just recently gave birth.
Back in the studio, the dancers were encouraged to allow their feelings to guide them.
“The dancers created so much of this piece,” says Schenfeld. “I stopped teaching steps years ago; instead, I try to teach the dancers how to be dancers/choreographers. I want them to know their bodies and to be able to express themselves as fully as possible.”
Schenfeld believes so strongly in her dancers that she opted, for the first time in many years, not to go on stage herself. An established solo artist, Schenfeld finds it hard to resist the pull of the spotlight.
“I made a decision not to perform in Don’t Go Now because I wanted this piece to be different. To see the company without me is very exciting.
I swore that there wouldn’t be props, that it would just be movement,” she explains.
One prop, a cane of sorts, did manage to sneak into the production; however, it is the only object in the piece.
Although the subject matter of the piece is somber, Schenfeld assures that Don’t Go Now is an uplifting production.
“The word ‘art’ in Hebrew is made up of two other words – ‘faith’ and ‘truth.’ I really believe in dance, in its ability to give hope,” she says.
Don’t Go Now will be presented at the Suzanne Dellal Center on Wednesday, February 25, at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.