Excavating a dance

Veteran choreographer Anat Danieli finds personal healing in her latest creation

anat dance 88 298 (photo credit: )
anat dance 88 298
(photo credit: )
In 2006 Anat Danieli took a break from choreography to care for her mother who was dying of cancer. Nine months later, she and her new company of four dancers began to work on an artistic endeavor entitled "Have You Seen the Movie 'Death of a Lady'?" "Death is a starting point," Danieli explains. "The only way to define it is through life. Life is audible, life moves." The four dancers sometimes move as one, sometimes separately, but they interact with each other throughout. "Death of a Lady," Danieli says, quietly affirms the ideas of succoring and nurturing and speaks to the "whole question of one person taking care of another. It looks at this from different aspects. You reach places where things aren't so cut and dry, and you have to rethink what the other person may be feeling." The dance itself came surprisingly easy to Danieli, she says, but she compares dance-making in general, and this piece in particular, to an archeological excavation: you don't quite know what you'll find, you just know that something is there, and in this case "we discovered it quickly." Danieli started dancing at Bikurei Ha'Etim in Tel Aviv and went on to graduate from the Jerusalem Dance Academy. She then left to New York to study with world-renowned choreographer Merce Cunningham. When she returned in 1990, she found immediate recognition in the dance world, winning the first prize in that year's "Shades of Dance" (Gvanim Bemahol) competition. Afterward, she created a couple of pieces for the famed Batsheva Dance Company. In 1993 she founded her own dance company, and has worked independently ever since, garnering prizes and an international reputation along the way. A typical Danieli piece is understated. She uses the modern dance language, but says that she always tries "to reduce movement to its essence, to reveal its purity and truth. My movement language is prosaic, but I seek the poetry in it. There are layers and each has its own resonance." The music in "Death of a Lady" mimics the sounds of life - "speech, the rustle of movement, breath." These sounds are the only music in the hour-long piece that will premiere in the studio of the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center from June 21-23. Yes, having no external music "is a risk," Danieli admits, but says that's fine with her. "I'm at a stage in life where I owe nothing to anybody in terms of creativity, and have the freedom and the time to offer myself."