In every creative process, choices are made that determine the outcome of the piece. The number of performers, the music selected, the props, costumes and set are all factors that need to be chosen along the way to making a dance. Often, these decisions are points of no return. Once they are made, there is no way to see what would have happened had the choreographer gone through a different sliding door.
In her new creation, Rina Schenfeld opted to defy this principle. In “Women Women,” a new two-part evening by the veteran choreographer and dancer, Schenfeld presents two outcomes of the same soundtrack, composed of musical compositions as well as poems she wrote over the past several months.
“There is a solo, which I perform, and a piece performed by five dancers from my company,” she says in our phone interview. “They are set to the same soundtrack and are two interpretations of the same idea.”
Schenfeld, 83, is the connective thread between the past and present of Israeli dance. Her career has spanned decades, countries, trends and styles. She is an ever-present creature on Israeli stages, and is engaged in an ongoing effort to deepen and further understand her process, what it means to perform, and how to work with other dancers.
This summer, Schenfeld will present work on three very distinct platforms. In the first, she inaugurated the new dance series curated by Yair Vardi, former director of the Suzanne Dellal Center, at the Israel Philharmonic’s Zucker Hall with a collaborative work with creative duo Avi Kaiser and Sergio Antonino.
Now, she is preparing to mount “Women Women” in her home studio in north Tel Aviv, as part of the Art Tour Festival, which invites audiences to events around the Yehuda Maccabi area. Later in the month, she will perform a type of retrospective at Tel Aviv University.
“These performances are very different from one another,” she says. “The first was very aristocratic. Working with Avi and Sergio was very special. This upcoming one is very down-to-earth. I love working with my company because they aren’t soldiers, they are collaborators. And then the university performance will be a completely different story.”ALL THIS, she explains, is part of a process she began over five decades ago. “I am continuing the process of understanding what dance is and what an audience is. I’ve been dancing a long time, and I still have a lot left to understand.”
Schenfeld’s perception of the audience’s role has vastly changed from when she started out. “The audience isn’t there to say great or not great. They aren’t judges. The [people in the] audience are artists who need to create the piece for themselves with the help of the artist.”
Schenfeld explains that this approach to the audience stems both from her experience on stage and in the crowd. “What you say about the piece says more about you than it does about the work,” she affirms.
As for her creative process, Schenfeld references Pablo Picasso. “Picasso said, ‘it took me four years to paint like Rafael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.’ That is what I want. To create like a child. Free.”
“Women Women” draws from Schenfeld’s poetry drawer, with writing done during COVID. “The last two years did a lot of good and a lot of bad. My poems are very influenced by corona. It’s over but I am still processing it,” she explains.
The piece employs objects and movement in a playful and poetic manner. In both sections of the work, the body conveys the range of emotion set forth in the words of the poems.
For her performance at the Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery, Schenfeld is resurrecting her iconic solo “Wings.”
“I love going back to older works. It’s like giving birth anew, like making a new piece, because you have changed, so the piece changes.”Rina Schenfeld
“I love going back to older works. It’s like giving birth anew, like making a new piece, because you have changed, so the piece changes,” she says.
Schenfeld’s schedule in these weeks is no laughing matter and would be challenging for a dancer a third her age, but it barely phases her.
“Dance takes energy, but it also gives energy, and luckily, it gives more than it takes. People always ask me how I stay in shape. The body isn’t a muscle, it’s a song. I dance to sing.”
Rina Schenfeld will present “Women Women” as part of the Art Tour Festival at her home studio, 14 Harav Friedman St., Tel Aviv, on June 9 at 8:30 p.m. and June 10 at 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.arttour.online. Free entry. She will perform at Tel Aviv University on June 29 at 5 p.m.