Drawing a blank

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company premieres its new work, ‘Blackout’.

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (photo credit: ORI NEVO)
The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company
(photo credit: ORI NEVO)
It has happened to everyone. You are asked a question, are about to perform in public or are taking an important exam when a strange blankness washes over you.
Blackout. The feeling, which many admit to having regular nightmares about, is an inexplicable phenomenon. It can happen at any time for a number of reasons.
Next week, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will premiere a new work named after this enigma at the Suzanne Dellal Center. Blackout is the work of Rami Be’er together with the 17 dancers of the company. The piece has been performed a handful of times in locations around the country, such as Beersheba and Kibbutz Yagur.
For the past 32 years, choreographer Be’er has functioned as a veritable dance machine, churning out one, sometimes two premieres a year. Based in pastoral Kibbutz Ga’aton, he has not paused, rested or taken a sabbatical since assuming the role of artistic director of the KCDC in 1983. That is until 2014. Last year Be’er broke a threedecade tradition, presenting no new work. Perhaps it was a blackout, perhaps a well-needed break.
Be’er decided to kick off 2015 with a premiere that not only returns him to the stage but also speaks precisely to the point of his brief absence.
“The piece is a staged exploration of a sudden loss of the senses or memory,” said Be’er of the work at a recent gala.
One major influence in the process for Blackout was Yehuda Amichai’s poem “Lullaby.” The words are most commonly known as the lyrics of a song sung by Yoni Rechter. For Blackout, Be’er opted to remove the melody, bringing in Israel Bright to recite Amichai’s somber sentiments.
The rest of the soundtrack, designed by Alex Claude, is a collage of songs and compositions ranging in styles from classical to pop. Be’er created costumes and lighting for Blackout, elements that help to bring his inner vision to the eyes of the beholder.
There is no doubt that Be’er was influenced by the political tensions of the country. The rehearsal process for Blackout coincided with the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. In his previous works, such as 60 Hertz and Ecodoom, Be’er used his choreography as a means to comment on the zeitgeist of the land. Here, too, traces of conflict, remorse and a search for renewed hope are present.
As with any of KCDC’s work, the dancers generated the majority of the movement material of Blackout. Using improvisation as a key tool, the performers are encouraged to contribute ideas, movement phrases and thoughts throughout the process. The ensemble comes in and out of unison, moving one moment as a single organism and the next as a gathering of individuals.
The coming months are set to be action-packed for KCDC.
Following the two-night Tel Aviv premiere of Blackout, the company will travel to Europe for a month-long tour throughout Germany. April will see KCDC back here for two performances of Blackout before returning to Germany for an additional round of shows.
The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will perform ‘Blackout’ at the Suzanne Dellal Center on February 22 and 23. For more information, visit www.