Dancing for dialogue

In a display of poetic irony, the aim of ‘Quiet’ is to get people talking.

Arkadi Zaides Quiet 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Arkadi Zaides Quiet 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This morning, the stormy weather forced me to leave my bicycle at home and take a taxi to work. During the 15-minute ride, cars and buses on all sides of our small cab honked their horns in frustration at the slow pace of traffic. Updates on the riots sweeping through Cairo blasted over the radio. Amidst all the havoc, the driver said in an incredibly soft voice, “Everyone’s fighting. In the end, I think we all want the same thing: to go home after work to our families, eat dinner and go to sleep. Everyone wants quiet.”
Hearing this sad but lovely statement, I immediately thought of choreographer Arkadi Zaides, whose work Quiet will be performed on Monday night at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv.
Quiet is an evening-length work for four performers, which weaves together theater and dance. The cast is comprised of Zaides, fellow Israeli dancer Ofir Yudilevich and Palestinian actor/dancers Muhammed Mugrabi and Rabey Khoury.
The meeting among the four men of Quiet produced an array of languages, both spoken (Arabic and Hebrew) and in movement (capoiera, judo, contemporary), which Zaides delicately mixed in to the work. At the beginning of the piece, lights illuminate a gorgeous backdrop by Klone. The painted birds and the sound of waves ebbing and flowing hint at the beach at sunset. Each man follows a unique path on stage, at times interacting with others, at times swallowed up in his own thoughts and struggle. In Zaides’s solo, which repeats throughout the work, it seems he is lost, searching blindly for something or someone.
What is clear is the constant feeling of tension. Whether the charged atmosphere is a result of their feelings towards one another or of some outside force is less obvious. Of his experience during the creative process for Quiet Zaides writes, “Quiet arose from a real sense of emergency. In light of the growing violence between communities in Israel…it felt acute to create a platform that allows for an open and honest communication, where broad perspective is sought and where trust is constantly built. The creative process was nourished and inspired by all these differences between the participants’ social realities and artistic backgrounds.”
It is essential to Zaides that Quiet be presented throughout the country, not just at the regular dance venues of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Since the premiere of Quiet, exactly one year ago, performances have been held in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Haifa, Kibbutz Kabri and Tel Aviv. The goal of each performance is to draw in new audiences. In addition, the four men of Quiet have taken the stage in Poland, Germany, France, Greece and Italy. Most shows have featured a question-and-answer session following the performance.
Despite the political views of each individual audience member, Quiet has succeeded in getting people talking, another testament to the openness with which Zaides has handled this delicate topic.
In making Quiet, Zaides joined a long and distinguished list of choreographers who have used dance as a vehicle to express their political views or the current political situation. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Kurt Jooss, whose epic anti-war piece The Green Table premiered during Hitler’s ascent to power. In 2010, Zaides was awarded the prestigious Kurt Jooss Prize for his piece Solo Colores.
“The four characters in this piece reveal a landscape that contains aggression, compassion, confusion and yearning,” writes Zaides. “In the midst of all this intensity lies a constant search for a place that can contain all the conflicted layers – a place that is quiet.”
Quiet will run at the Tmuna Theater on February 7. For tickets, visit www.tmu-na.org.il or call (03) 561-1211.