A bounce of invention

The contemporary piece ‘Net Work’ by Maya Levi and Hanan Anando Mars defies categorization and, at times, the laws of gravity.

Net Work dancers 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Net Work dancers 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
You know that feeling when you walk into IKEA and see all the little kids in the room with all the balls? Or when you watch someone getting a neck massage? It’s the feeling of wanting to jump out of your chair and push that lucky person aside. That was exactly the feeling I had while watching Net Work, a new dance installation piece by Maya Levi and Hanan Anando Mars.
In Net Work, two dancers act out a circus-like scene on an oversized trampoline. They jump, push each other and soar like birds in a bouncy, vibrant and fun-loving way. Sitting on the side of Levi and Mars’s netted-in contraption, I found myself fantasizing about flying.
Levi and Mars began developing this piece last year in Germany. They performed the piece themselves, which was 20 minutes at the time. “We had reached the end of our physical abilities,” laughed Levi. “But we knew that there was more to explore.”
For the fuller expression of the piece, the duo decided to bring in the big guns, or the littler guns, as it were. The new cast looks like a brother-sister duo, though Uri Shafir and Noa Paran are not related.
Though Shafir and Paran are young, having recently left the Batsheva Ensemble they are two mature and engaging performers.
Now outside of the work and the city, Mars and Levi collaborate on every decision connected to the piece. “We disagree all the time,” said Levi. “There are rehearsals where I tell Maya that I need to be alone with the dancers, without her opinion,” said Mars. “It’s very important to keep a sense of humor in this collaboration. And I need to be very attentive to myself and to the process. I need to be more sensitive to make it work,” he said, sitting next to Levi in their caravan near Binyamina.
After years of living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Levi and Mars took off for the country, where they now live and work. “I lived in Jerusalem for several years before moving to Tel Aviv. I felt that the distance from the center of the action was very good for me as an artist. I realized that I didn’t need to be in the middle of things. Being out here gives me quiet, from which I can create more freely,” explained Levi.
In the case of the trampoline, the extra space is a plus, as there was no studio available that could house the monster. Therefore, for the past two months Paran and Shafir have made the trek to their trampoline four times a week for seven hours of springy labor. Next to the trampoline is a stable where horses meander, eating straw and gazing at the strange airborne people.
Unlike many current dance pieces, Net Work doesn’t take itself too seriously. Paran and Shafir are endearing and comical in this work, drawing the audience into their buoyant world. The two performers exchange roles during the piece: At one point Shafir is the ringleader, forcing Paran to literally jump through hoops; at other times Paran takes charge, presenting Shafir to the crowd and helping him find his sea legs, so to speak. The work is very theatrical, using text and gestures.
Humor is an elusive friend when it comes to making art. The moment you shoot for it, it disappears.
“Humor was a very clear directive when we made the piece. The first time you get on the trampoline, the initial feeling is happiness,” said Mars.
“I would call it hysteria,” interjected Levi.
“Then, when we started to create the piece,” Mars continued, “that joy faded away a little. So we were stubborn about making sure that the happiness and silliness stayed in the piece. We wanted it to have joyful moments and to be enjoyable to the audience. All too often, the first time you see dancers smile is during the closing bow.”
Although it is extremely demanding physically, Net Work may not fit directly into the category of dance, explained Levi. “For me, this work pulls me away from dance. I don’t know what that says about the piece. This is a real physical performance, more than a dance piece. But I don’t exactly know what the boundaries of this piece are.”
After seeing two runs of the piece, I can only say that I was willing to watch a third and fourth time.
Net Work will is performed on November 4-6 at Machsan 2 in the Jaffa Port and on November 17 and 18 at Knight’s Hall in Acre. For tickets, call 074-701-8580.