On the street where he lived

British choreographer Nigel Charnock addresses his childhood memories in his solo performance of ‘One Dixon Road'.

One dixon road 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
One dixon road 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘I worked on this solo for about 50 years,” says Nigel Charnock of his new dance piece One Dixon Road, which will open the new Machol Shalem International Dance Festival next week. The festival will run for five days and include Israeli and international artists.
Charnock, who visited Israel two years ago to teach a jam-packed workshop, will make his way back to Israel for one performance only and then head back to England, where he resides.
“One Dixon Road was the address of the house where I was born. The piece deals with my memories of childhood, from my earliest memories of dancing and singing through my teenage years when I was into punk,” explains Charnock.
While the actual process took about one year, Charnock feels that he has been preparing this piece his entire life. The score of the piece, which is the only set element of the performance, reflects Charnock’s journey through different genres of popular music. Other than deciding what bits of soundtrack he wanted to play at certain moments, Charnock has left the performance open to improvisation, meaning that each presentation of One Dixon Road is different from the one before and after it.
Charnock is a seasoned soloist, having spent many years of his illustrious career facing enormous audiences by himself. A founding member of London’s DV8 Physical Theater, Charnock is known for blending theater, dance and music seamlessly. Though he has become an expert on the matter of solo performance, the magic element that makes one able to enthrall an audience alone is still somewhat mysterious to Charnock.
“It’s really difficult to do, but that’s why I do it,” he explains. “To expect people to look at me and listen to me. You are just born with that charisma. It’s difficult to teach someone how to be a good performer. You can teach technique or dance, but in the end you have to transcend that to communicate with other people.”
In the pieces he has created for himself and for dance companies around the world, Charnock has managed to ruffle some feathers with his candid manner of conveying stories to his crowd.
“It’s a matter of taste,” he says. “I can’t please all of the people all of the time. I don’t do what I do for audiences. When I’m making work, I’m making it for me and for the people that I’m working with. To make a piece for the audience, I would have to visit them individually and ask them what they’d like to see and how they would like me to be, and then my message would be all mishy-mashy.”
This visit to Israel is part of an ongoing collaboration that Charnock has developed with Machol Shalem, a partnership that will eventually produce One, an evening-length piece for 10 Israeli dancers. For Charnock, this project will bring a longtime dream to fruition.
“I’ve wanted to make a project in Israel for five or 10 years but never received the funding. I gave up on it, and then somebody said there was a possibility,” he says.
Joining forces with famed Israeli soloist Talia Paz, Charnock will spend one month in Jerusalem this spring.
“It will have 10 performers – five women and five men. I’m not quite sure what it’s about yet. I think it will be about Israel and my relationship with the country and the people here,” says Charnock. The cast to perform this work will be selected during a two-day audition in Jerusalem this weekend.
For Charnock, the location of this project is a key element for the creation. “The first time I went to Jerusalem I was struck by the atmosphere there, the energy and a kind of tension, which sounds negative but it’s not. It’s almost hysteria. When I went to the Wailing Wall, I was amazed by the energy. The place is all about religion, which has to do with God, which has something to do with love, and you get there and there are armies and soldiers. This thing that is about love that seems to me to be about hate and seeing and not liking difference. So I have a strange relationship with Jerusalem love/hate not hate but I don’t know, a fascination with the place. It’s an atmospheric hub of questions of faith and relation. Of getting on with each other. Living peaceably side by side. I don’t want to get into politics too much, but I probably will. I can say that it will be about relationships. How people deal with each other. How we cope with each other,” he says.
One Dixon Road will be performed on December 5 at the Gerard Behar Center. For tickets, visit www.macholshalem.org.