The ‘Defect’ effect

The German Wee Dance Company, which will tour the country this month, is a guest of the Choreographers’ Association.

Butterfly Defect (photo credit: Courtesy)
Butterfly Defect
(photo credit: Courtesy)
According to choreographer Dan Pelleg, a good performance is like a shark – it never stops moving. Pelleg and partner Marko E.
Weigert comprise the helm of the German-based Wee Dance Company.
For more than a decade, they have been presenting Butterfly Defect, a dance piece for seven performers and seven large cardboard boxes. The piece, which won the Audience Award at the 2006 Hanover Choreography Competition, never gets old because it never stops evolving.
“Every time we meet to work on the piece after a break, we always rejuvenate it,” said Pelleg in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
“There haven’t been two performances that have been identical. The piece has gone through lots of stages of focal points. Each time we work on it, the piece matures, like a person going through different phases in life. As we change, so does the piece. It also goes through generations of dancers, and each new cast colors the piece differently.”
Pelleg and Weigert are preparing for their first tour in Israel, which will kick off next week. The tour will comprise performances in Jaffa, Ein Hashofet, Hazor Haglilit, Sha’ar Hanegev, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hadera, Nazareth Illit and Or Akiva. Each evening will consist of Wee Dance Company’s Butterfly Defect, as well as a work by local choreographers such as Hillel Kogan, Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, Renana Raz and the Fresco Dance Group.
The project is the work of the Choreographers’ Association. The pieces chosen to join The Butterfly Defect during this tour are We Love Arabs by Hillel Kogan; Heroes by Yossi Berg and Oded Graf; The Diplomats by Renana Raz; La Famillia by Yoram Karmi/Fresco Dance Group; and Women’s Aid by Dafi Eltabeb.
Had things gone differently, Pelleg could have easily found himself a member of the Israeli dance community. As a dancer and choreographer, he was drawn to the sparse theatricality of German dance.
In 1996, he left Israel for the chillier environs of Eastern Germany. Three years later, he founded Wee Dance Company with Weigert and dancer Sommer Ulrikson. And although he has spent most of his creative life in another country, Pelleg’s works are unmistakably Israeli, employing dynamic movement above all else.
“I’m not updated on what’s going on in Israel now,” he explained, “but I can speak from what I have seen and what I remember from my time there.
In Germany, in what we call the free scene, or independent scene, choreographers are very interested in methods that are not dance. Germany is great at non-movement. In Israel, there is still belief in the power to express with movement. Even if people are checking the boundaries of dance or movement, they haven’t lost faith in what movement can do. They still see movement as a very substantial part of their work.”
In The Butterfly Defect, Pelleg and Weigert create the illusion of 14 moving bodies, using seven dancers. The interaction between the dancers and the boxes brings the objects to life, creating a delightful sense of play. It is the joie de vivre inherent in the piece that has kept it at the forefront of Wee Dance Company’s repertoire.
“It has happened often that this piece has been the first choice of programmers and presenters.
There is a sense that the piece really communicates. The energy and personality of the piece are very specific, and it is a great example of the type of work that we make. Someone once told me that our works are ‘life affirming.’ I would like to think that that describes our body of work; but if it is true for one piece, it is The Butterfly Defect. There is a happiness or joy that bursts through the piece,” he said.
Wee Dance Company will perform around the country from February 18 to March 4. For more information, visit www.choreographers.