A ‘White Beast’ in Karmiel

Company Mirage performs an original dance production at the northern festival.

Sarah Baltzinger (photo credit: ANDRÉ NITSCHKE)
Sarah Baltzinger
(photo credit: ANDRÉ NITSCHKE)
As many choreographers will admit, an artist often gets carried away during the creation process. Things that were meant to be simple become complex, hours in the studio run long and decisions become hard to make. Perhaps it is because of these confusions, these momentary blips in the plan, that the finished product in any dance work is almost always a surprise to its creators. Such was true for the creation process of White Beast by French choreographer and Company Mirage artistic director Sarah Baltzinger.
When setting out to compose this work, Baltzinger, 28, knew that she wanted to make a solo she would perform. She also knew that she wanted to incorporate different media into the piece. She brought in four collaborators: Anthony Zollo to create visuals, lighting designer Viviane Descreux, sound designer Guillaume Jullian and costume designer Taina Zekout. As their two months in the studio progressed, Baltzinger began to understand that what began as a simple solo had turned into a complex production.
“I wanted to make something about intimacy and an eternal journey,” explains Baltzinger over the phone from her home in Metz, France. “The show really changed and developed once it met the audience.”
The work boasts a solo character presented in different lights, literally. At times, Baltzinger’s petite frame is swallowed in a large white gown on which ripples of light shimmer. At others, she is adrift in blackness, her blond curls bouncing as she contracts and springs forward into the space.
Baltzinger began to arrange a tour schedule after receiving positive responses following the piece’s premiere two years ago. It was then that the complexity of White Beast fully hit her. “We decided that we would make a new version of the show because it was pretty hard technically and it was hard touring. Last year we made it easier to travel.”
This week, Baltzinger arrive in Israel to perform White Beast at the annual Karmiel Festival. It will be her first time in the country and she is thrilled.
There is a fusion of movement languages in White Beast that Baltzinger attributes to a nearly subconscious osmosis of styles. “I’ve been working a lot to find my own perception and exploration of my own body. I’m a contemporary dancer but I have other possibilities in my body. I try to use contortion a lot. I was inspired by what I saw in popping [style of dance] and my body just learned its own way to move like that. In my work I try to push the limit, but in a smooth way.”
Beyond the physical challenges, Baltzinger revels in the opportunity to revisit previous emotional states while performing. “When I created the piece, I was like living intense things in my personal life and I think I put what I had in myself into the piece.”
Until the performance, Baltzinger will spend her time getting back into mental and physical shape to hold down a 45-minute solo. “I always...reserve a few days before to really go back into physicality and the stamina. Because it’s a duet with the media, anything can happen on stage. I have to prepare to react, because it’s a live performance and we have to be aware on stage. I can really improvise if it’s needed, but the show is pretty hard,” she says.
Company Mirage will present White Beast at the Karmiel Festival on Wednesday, July 25 at 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.karmielfestival.co.il.