Dance Review: Two Room Apartment

A critique of Two Room Apartment performed October 20 and the Tmuna Festival.

Two room Apartment 370 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
Two room Apartment 370
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
A quarter of a century ago, two young dancers, trained at Kibbutz Ga’aton, revolutionized the contemporary dance scene with their Two Room Apartment, staged in the Shades of Dance framework, aimed at exposing new talent.
Nir Ben-Gal and Liant Dror were the first choreographers to present a full evening work – short pieces were the norm – the first to rely on unison, repetitive, energetic actions, European- style, using everyday gestures and steps, while questioning old-fashioned gender roles.
Being there in 1987, I noticed the stunned audience, who realized that the Israeli fringe reached altogether a new plateau. Furthermore, it was the first Israeli choreography to win first prize at the prestigious Bagnolet international competition, which opened doors for a whole generation of Israeli dance makers.
Currently, most effort, particularly among younger choreographers, is invested in catching up with the latest trends, with little regard to earlier works, their style and concepts.
Dancer-choreographers Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, working together closely for years, took an unprecedented step with their choice to resurrect Two Room Apartment, a milestone originated by another couple of creators.
Digging in the past paid off handsomely.
With Gal and Dror’s consent, they molded the materials to reflect their own relationships, and bridged the passage of time through their own prism.
Both works take place on metaphorically divided space, with each partner measuring its perimeters with long, decisive steps, perfectly synced, executing a repetitive series of gestures and motions, deriving from everyday actions like brushing the hair or pushing up the sleeves.
But the current Two Room Apartment reconstruction, made by older, more seasoned artists, contained more emotionally detailed complexity. Sheinfeld adds frustration as he takes on house chores, while Laor parades his large frame, chin up. Perhaps the most touching scene is when the head taller Laor, in his birthday suit, takes a series of jumps into the arms of Sheinfeld, who hugs him like an oversize baby, while Laor almost melts in his arms. It was a moment of great intimacy without a trace of eroticism.
The new work is powerful and relevant. As performers, they bring on stage authentic life experience, deep reflections and sensitive conclusions, which was a pleasure to watch. It took more than paint and brushes, but they renovated the Two Room Apartment into a gem.