‘The State of Things’

Israeli choreographers bring local tensions and pleasures to the stage in a significant manner.

July 6, 2019 18:52
3 minute read.
WHETHER IT’S Lichtenstein or Agam, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art will challenge your perceptions.

WHETHER IT’S Lichtenstein or Agam, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art will challenge your perceptions.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Every creative process begins, essentially, with nothing. The act of creating, be it a painting, a photograph or a performance, takes an empty space and fills it with something. Often, the spark that sets of a process is a small thing, a sentence from a book, a single movement or an emotion. When Kaiser Antonino Dance Ensemble directors Avi Kaiser and Sergio Antonino started their journey into the unknown, which resulted in the creation of L’etat des Choses (The State of Things), they had Michel Foucault’s essay “The Utopian Body” to illuminate their path.

“The jumping off point was Foucault. He writes about man’s desire to depart form the body and become other than the body,” explained Kaiser in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “The more we read it, the more we got stuck on certain sentences. The philosophy is gorgeous, but then how do you translate it? We had this desire to work with the body today, where it is and the state of it.”

Next week, Kaiser and Antonino will reveal L’etat des Choses to an Israeli audience at the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater in Tel Aviv. The piece has already been presented in Germany, however, the artists are anxious to see how the local crowd will perceive the work.

Kaiser and Antonino have been an on- and off-stage duo for nearly two decades. They have lived, created and performed together in a variety of countries. For the past many years, their work has featured ensembles. L’etat des Choses harks back to their beginnings in which the two performers devised and executed their creations alone, with only one another to lean on.

“We came back to this format after many years,” said Kaiser. “We have duets that we perform, but as a new piece, it’s been almost 10 years since we did something so intimate, something that brings us one facing the other. We are a mirror for one another. Each person looks at the other and sees the reflection of themselves. In mirrors, unexpected things happen. You would think you can’t find anything new after all these years but then you do. For choreographers who work together it’s never easy. We live and work together. The group works take us away from one another. After many group pieces that we made, a need arose. It was not an intellectual need but nonetheless... I think couples that create together have no limits. It’s either all or nothing.”


KNOWING THEY wanted to do a duet, and armed with Foucault’s illustrious writings, Kaiser and Antonino took to contending with themselves. Both veteran dancers, the two took stock of what their bodies could and could no longer achieve. Their goal was not to push themselves beyond reasonable bounds, rather to honor the limitations of the aging body and revel in what is currently present and available.

“The body is tired. It doesn’t want, but the spirit wants. But the body is still there trying to connect between what we read and feel and our soul and connecting it to the body, which gets a new wrinkle every day,” admitted Kaiser.

As they went along, Kaiser felt that they were closing in on the creation. “There is nothing that exists. We create this thing and then we have to be precise with it, to make the intention more precise. It is an act that is endless, especially in the world of performance.”

Though Kaiser and Antonino are used to living on the line between Israel and abroad, the local tensions and pleasures found their way into this piece in a significant manner. “The reality in Israel is a very strong reality that you cannot escape. There are great sides. It’s a very active society. There is positive and negative. The minute we relate to the body in Israel, it takes on a political edge because we are contending with the body. How we move, talk, the upcoming elections, on the bus in the street, how we wear clothes, our participation in life is our freedom, our ability to participate, to contend with the vote, to take part in life. The body has a very big significance in that life. Our country gives us that charge. In this country, the body has meaning. Not just in how we look but in its presence in our everyday actions. That is an element that exists in our work and that influences our work. I see that as a very positive thing.”

The Kaiser Antonino Dance Ensemble will present L’etat des Choses at the Suzanne Dellal Center on July 13. For tickets or more information, visit suzannedellal.org.il or call 03-510-5656.

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