A dream drum true

Music meets movement under the guidance of Suzanne Dellal Center director Yair Vardi .

‘DREAM DRUM Dance’ summons the rain with a cross-pollination of dancing, drumming and diversity. (photo credit: Courtesy)
‘DREAM DRUM Dance’ summons the rain with a cross-pollination of dancing, drumming and diversity.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Some rain dances are performed with turquoise feathers and traditional oral hymns, others involve Shamans and goat skin drums; with Tu Bishvat just around the corner, the Suzanne Dellal Center and Kalimba – an ethnic instrument store tucked inside the dance center’s walls – have joined forces to summon the rain with a cross-pollination of dancing, drumming and diversity.
We caught up with dancer, choreographer and artistic director, Yair Vardi, about this week’s impressive collaboration of rhythm and movement: “Dream Drum Dance.”
What inspired you to create this seven- day series?
We’ve been searching for a way to involve the Kalimba music shop for some time now. At first, we thought about an event every second or third Saturday, until suddenly, the Chinese dance company canceled their visit for the end of January unexpectedly and we had an entire week to fill... fast.
It was the perfect opportunity to bring live music and dance together on our stage – offering something new, something that we had not done before and something that did not require a half year of planning.
So how long did you have to plan Dream Drum Dance?
Less than two months, so everything had to be done in full force. I said, “Let’s think about it, let’s see who wants to be a part of it, and let’s give it all we’ve got.”
I’m actually quite excited to see it all come together this week.
Is this the first live musical collaboration Suzanna Dellal has seen?
No, not at all. But, this kind of musical focus is newer, for sure. Dance and music really do function together beautifully, especially when you throw in such real and unusual instruments. Plus, most of the works are very new – even I had not seen many of them before rehearsals.
Did the dancers and musicians get to choose their partnerships or were they pre-assigned?
We joined them all here under one roof.
That is, after looking into who wanted to do what, then slowly – layer by layer, idea by idea – building a program. It was a very exhilarating process; I hope we will replicate it in the future.
Are there any common themes that span across all of the performances? We allow every artist the freedom to choose their own themes and ideas. We believe in letting the dancers and musicians create what they want and feel – and it works.
How will each evening be presented?
Each show will last one hour, without stops, intermissions, or closing the curtain.
Our goal is to keep a continuous flow going.
How do you feel that the live music component compliments the dancers?
The music is extremely enriching, so it raises the dancers to an even higher level of professionalism. They truly are a wonderful combination, especially in terms of work development.
Will all of the evenings take place in the main theater or will any take place in the smaller, more intimate studios?
We only have the one theater available to us right now. Next year, perhaps.
Kalimba’s main focus, the ‘live music’ is not limited to ethnic percussion, eh?
For instance, The Auditor’s Report (choreographed by Ran Levi) is a duet accompanied by live bass and electronic music.
We went for a huge variety for this event, welcoming everything from aboriginal music and religious dances, to didgeridoo, guitar, cello and all sorts of instruments and styles.
The percussion instruments might be quite worldly, but what about the artists involved?
Everybody is local. They live here, play here, sound here and dance here. We have so many fantastic artists right here that we felt no need to branch out.
Have you thought about future dance collaborations?
Perhaps expanding to other milieus like poetry or painting? Of course it’s on our minds. When we have time, we’re always thinking of new things to do as long as we can accommodate them. In terms of art, Dream Drum Dance is also incorporating an exhibition of ethnic instruments and paintings during the celebrations.
In the arts – and even in Tel Aviv – we often notice an older, more established demographic. How do you encourage younger dancers to apply for this unique event?
Well, I must say, I do have to work hard.
This time around, we actually had many younger applicants. Maybe they don’t get enough stage time in other situations. I believe that we don’t have enough stages for younger artists to present their work, so if we can open the stage up to them, we should do so. In fact, we must do so.
You’ve been deeply involved in the industry (whether dancing, choreographing, or directing) for years now... how do you feel Israeli contemporary dance is evolving?
I think we’re reaching a place of freedom – we’re being told less and less to “do this” or “do that.” It allows for the best possible outcome. People like to create and invent without limitations. I think the Israeli contemporary dance world is changing every day, which certainly keeps me on my toes.
Where will it go from here?
Who knows, but events like this one help pave the way for a freer future, a better future.
What does the future of Dream Drum Dance hold?
I’d love to reach out to even more artists and spread ourselves over two or three weeks even. We are working very hard to make a difference, successfully. At this point, I can only hope for the best.
Feel the rhythm, see the beat at Dream Drum Dance, taking place every evening through February 3 at Tel Aviv’s Suzanne Dellal Center (www.suzannedellal.org.il).