Dancing to diaries

A brother's fearful illness triggers one choreographer's creative eruption.

Roni Friedman (photo credit: Maxim Reider)
Roni Friedman
(photo credit: Maxim Reider)
Young choreographer Roni Friedman premieres Yomanim, an intensely personal work, at Tel Aviv's Susan Delal Center this Sunday. The 50-minute piece is based on her diaries, and features 10 members of her Naim ensemble (naim can mean either "pleasant" or "movement" in Hebrew). Friedman, who started directing at age 15 and completed her studies in choreography in New York, now teaches at the Naim dance studio in Tel Aviv. She says it was her brother's illness that pushed her to create this show. "Two years ago my brother was diagnosed with cancer, and a marrow transplant was necessary," explains Friedman. "Luckily, my marrow was a perfect match. His illness has put everything into perspective. I realized that if you want to do something, you'd better do it right now. I was probably too busy running my studio, forgetting how much I love to create. I have had a few things to say with my show, but was afraid of how they would be received; I knew my pieces would be different from the norm in Israeli modern dance." The new show consists of six parts, or stations, each a complete short story: army service, New York, relationships with men, India, Africa, the brother's illness and coming to terms with oneself. The show is accompanied by an associative video art presentation, with a music score that is mainly recorded but also features live parts played by an African drummer. The choreographer describes her piece as a spiritual journey, a search after her true self. But she stresses that she is not the center of the piece, as "many people can easily identify with the situations." It took Fridman a year to stage the work. While auditioning candidates, she looked for an ability to express feelings rather than technical perfection. "They are all so different one from another; one is Ethiopian and another has strikingly red hair. This is one of the things I wanted to say with my show: be yourself; variety is what makes the world beautiful," she says. Another message of her piece is even more welcome: "Look, these are my most honest diaries. You can see that I made many mistakes, and quite a few times looked bad, but I am still here!" Yomanim will be performed January 13 at the Susan Delal Center at 9 p.m. For reservations, call (03) 510-5656.