Choreographing history

Choreographer Rami Be'er sees his Holocaust-themed 'Aide Memoire' performed in the home of Nazi Norway's most famous collaborator.

eko doom 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
eko doom 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
Vidkun Quisling, Norway's Nazi-friendly wartime prime minister, left behind a legacy so reviled his name became a synonym for treason. Israeli choreographer Rami Be'er didn't dance on Quisling's grave during a visit to Oslo last month, however. He did something better, watching his Kibbutz Dance Company perform in Quisling's former home, which now serves as Norway's Holocaust Research Institute. The piece the dancers performed, "Aide Memoire," was choreographed by the 49-year-old Be'er in 1994, and attempts to illustrate the psychological baggage carried by the children of Holocaust survivors. "It was really something very special," Be'er said of the late August performance. "It was immediately after the Lebanon war, and I think it was very important to present this piece at this time. It carries a message against violence, against racism, and supports peace as the solution." The summer's fighting had a very personal impact on Be'er, who was born at Kibbutz Ga'aton in northern Israel and continues to work there with the Kibbutz Dance Company. The kibbutz is located just eight kilometers from the Lebanese border, and the company's rehearsals for its Oslo performance had to be moved following the start of rocket and missile bombardments from the North. Speaking by telephone earlier this week, Be'er focused his comments on the company's upcoming performances, not the group's unexpected mid-summer move to Kibbutz Yakum in the country's center. The company will stage its most recent piece, the environmentallly-minded "Eko-doom," at the Tel Aviv Opera House on Wednesday, with a performance scheduled for the Jerusalem Theater next Monday. The company will also present the piece, which it premiered at the Israel Festival in June, in Haifa in the coming weeks. Be'er describes the piece as an "outline," preferring to leave it to his audience to find meaning in the work. "I give the option to each spectator to have his own journey," Be'er said. "I invite [audience members] on a journey ... I give them a rope and lead them until a certain point, and then leave them by themselves. Perhaps when the performance is over, they'll leave a little different." Now a senior figure in Israel's dance community, Be'er has spent most of his career working his way through the ranks of the Kibbutz Dance Company. He was mentored as a young dancer by Yehudit Arnon, the group's founder, joining the company in 1980 and developing more than 40 pieces in his subsequent work as a choreographer. He remains closely involved in each stage of the company's productions, overseeing rehearsals and even the creation of sets, lighting and music. He says he finds inspiration in almost everything, citing examples that include the way light falls on an object, the movements of a person or animal and exposure to other forms of art. Once he has the vision for a piece in mind, he returns to the studio to transfer it to the stage with his dancers. "Every time we perform, we have the potential to create communication and a bridge between different nations, religions, cultures and backgrounds," he said. "Without too many words, we can bring our modest contribution to create a better world."