Choreographer Rony Ben Hamou presents new solo at Intimadance Festival

Ben Hamou, 23, is one of the more powerful members of a new generation of choreographers afoot in Israel today.

Choreographer Rony Ben Hamou (photo credit: Courtesy)
Choreographer Rony Ben Hamou
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In each person’s music library, there are the songs that one considers of high quality and the others that are not, the guilty pleasures.
Growing up, choreographer and performer Rony Ben Hamou listened to pop songs, humming their melodies and reciting their lyrics by heart. Most of them were about love. She never thought much of those playlists; they were full of catchy tunes and sentiments about wanting, needing and losing love.
In her new solo, “Linda,” which will premiere this weekend as part of Tmuna Theater’s Intimadance Festival, Ben Hamou tears those songs apart and weaves the shreds together into a flag waved highly and proudly.
“It’s a protest of love,” she says over the phone.
“I listened to all these artists when I was younger. I thought they were trashy songs for teenagers to listen to, dreaming of that man who would come one day,” she says.
Ben Hamou, 23, is one of the more powerful members of a new generation of choreographers afoot in Israel today. She is forceful, unapologetic and driven. In her solo “Barbarit,” which was presented as part of the A Genre Festival also at Tmuna, she contended with her Eastern roots. She is also an outstanding member of the cast of Anat Katz and Erez Maayan’s “Can’t Argue With That.”
In the moments before coronavirus hit Israel, Ben Hamou and a group of artists proposed ideas to Intimadance’s artistic directors, Stav Marin and Merav Dagan. The theme for this year’s festival, which is even more relevant now than when chosen, is Overthrow.
“I got in, worked a bit, the lockdown started, the festival got frozen and we didn’t know what would happen. For a time, they said the festival would happen digitally. Then it was moved from June to September, and just recently they told us we could perform,” says Ben Hamou.
Alone at home, ruminating on this solo she was meant to be making for an unknown deadline, Ben Hamou looped back to those teenage playlists. “I was thinking about the kinds of love I need. I started to ask myself all these questions: Do I enjoy being alone? What kind of together and alone do I want? Do I want something long-term or something quick?”
Around the same time as she was accepted to Intimadance, Ben Hamou’s brother bought her a keyboard for her birthday.
“I started to play it in isolation. I started to play everything, really. I made an anthem out of those loves songs, and I used a drum to keep time. I made a section with a bigger drumstick, which was the stick of my broom. The whole piece came to be within four walls,” she explains.
In the cavernous space of Tmuna’s Cycle, the innermost performance space, Ben Hamou parades around, part Beyoncé and part color guard, beating her drum and drawing out the lyrics.
“I put in all kinds of texts about love, written from all perspectives – men, women, people who need to be loved, people who need to love... I put it all together,” she says.
The name Linda refers to a song by Shlomi Saranga. “‘One left her, one asked for her hand, and Linda doesn’t know what’s with her’ are the lyrics,” says Ben Hamou.
“Love is dangerous ground where we can get confused, swept away, broken and lost.”
In this musical/emotional journey, Ben Hamou wanders through her relationship with relationships, at once vulnerable and fierce.
Intimadance will take place on September 24-26. For more information, visit “Linda” is part of the Second Overthrow program.