Fringe dance: Shenfeld and Laor’s 'Two Room Apartment'

Work is reconstruction of the same-titled duet by Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror, which premiered in Israel in 1987.

‘TWO ROOM APARTMENT’  dance 370 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
For a musician, the concept of performing a cover is very familiar. Singers are constantly borrowing songs from one another. Often, these reinterpretations give new life to said song, bringing old tunes back to the radio or stage.
In the dance world, where few recordings are left behind after a performance takes place, covers are much more rare. For the most part, if one artist decides to reimagine the choreography of another, he/ she will do so in a very abstract way.
For this reason, Niv Shenfeld and Oren Laor’s Two Room Apartment is a unique production. This work is a reconstruction of the same-titled duet by Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror, which premiered in Israel in 1987.
This weekend, Shenfeld and Laor will present their take on Two Room Apartment at Tmuna Theater before setting off for performances in Italy, France and the US.
At the time of its premiere, Two Room Apartment was unlike anything else on stage. Ben-Gal and Dror produced the piece independently at a time when fringe choreography was in its infancy.
The movement language embodied a type of gestural simplicity that had not been seen before. For the rest of the 1980s and well into the 1990s, Ben-Gal and Dror performed the piece in Israel and abroad. Then, in 2009, the two artists revived the first 10 minutes of the piece for the Shades of Dance Choreography Competition at the Suzanne Dellal Center. Though time had changed the artists and their audience, Two Room Apartment had lost none of its magic.
Around the same time as Ben-Gal and Dror were rehearsing for Shades of Dance, Shenfeld and Laor considered a new project. The two artists have spent the past decade honing their choreographic skills. Both local and international audiences have warmly embraced their recent works, which include Ship of Fools and Post Martha.
For their new work, they knew that they wanted to create a duet that they would perform together, a first for the creative team. And though they have spent countless hours working alongside each other, choreographing a piece for themselves from scratch seemed unnatural. It was then that Shenfeld and Laor began to consider reconstructing an existing work.
Shenfeld began his professional career as a dancer in Ben-Gal and Dror’s company in the early 1990s.
Right before he joined the troupe, Shenfeld saw a performance of Two Room Apartment, an event that stayed in his mind for many years.
Laor caught the 2009 revival. “It really blew me away,” says Laor. “It was so fascinating to watch the simplicity and humbleness of them doing these repetitions of what seem to be everyday gestures.”
The reconstruction of this work, much like a successful cover of an old song, has brought a piece of history into the present. The presence of two men on stage gives new context to the original choreography.
Since the premiere in late 2012, Shenfeld and Laor have received countless invitations to perform abroad. They recently returned from performances in Germany, Malta, the Czech Republic and China.
Two Room Apartment will be performed at the Tmuna Theater on October 19 at 8 p.m. For more information,