‘Curtain-Up’ 2020: A triumphant story under COVID-19’s dark cloud

If one expected to see the artists echoing the harsh era, react to prolonged uncertainty of the roller-coaster reality, the opposite happened.

OPHIR YUDILEVITCH and Kerm Shemi in ‘Simulating Fight.’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
OPHIR YUDILEVITCH and Kerm Shemi in ‘Simulating Fight.’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s no secret that the arts – particularly the performing arts – have been hit hard during the pandemic, with venues closed for a year and a only a vague future. Dance companies have been staying off the radar. Under those distressing conditions, independent choreographers and dancers kept trying to beat the odds. Without a chance for live support, they relied on Web alternatives like Zoom.
The “Curtain-Up” framework is an exception – a coveted option supported by Culture Ministry. Ten choreographers were invited to produce supported works that premiered online last week over five evenings.
With surprise and pleasure, audiences were appreciative of the high quality and variety of talents. Yet if one expected to see the artists echoing the harsh era, react to prolonged uncertainty of the roller-coaster reality, the opposite happened.
Except for the semi-military parade style of the “Public Movement” group, totally committed to social and environmental issues for years, most works were concerned with the individual. Blissfully, most came up with impressive and well-executed creations exhibiting diversity and clarity of mind. Among them, five had particular impact:
• The mesmerizing and expressive work by Gil Kerer, who danced with Tom Weinberger in a duet set to Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Mandolin and Strings.” The delicacy of the music reverberated in their moves, yet both carried a robust presence that sprayed a layer of humor juxtaposing formal an informality along pleasure.
• MARS by Lior Tavori continues the essence of his previous work, performed by four strong male dancers whose juicy energy brings to mind fierce boot camp training. Keen awareness of their tight unit’s impact inspired them to look straight into the camera lens and let the joy and passion ooze. Formal and geometric formations often used in MARS may be considered as a result of easy choices, yet the fine sense of timing and smooth transitions ultimately rule.
• The duet “The Most Fascinating Problem in the World’ by Tom Weinberger, who danced with Matan Daskel, carries uniquely original nuances and leaves spacious room for the spoken word. The work derives inspiration from text with surrealist flavors by philosopher Allen Watts partially recited by dancers. Both manage cleverly to portray frankness against the winding text with acute awareness, humor and grace.
• Dancers Ophir Yudilevitch and Kerm Shemi, also trained in Capoeira (he) and Kung Fu (she) partner in “Simulating Fight,” accompanied by musician Maya Peri. The work enjoyed complex physical encounters supported by music, set and lighting designs along with an array of props. In last scene, “Break Dance,” they actually simulate breaking wood planks on each other, as they reach the end of a rich and fun affair – for them and for viewers.


Tags dance art