Going above and beyond with Daphna Horenczyk

Choreographer to perform sci-fi work at Jaffa’s Habait Theater.

Daphna Horenczyk (photo credit: Courtesy)
Daphna Horenczyk
(photo credit: Courtesy)
One year ago, tucked away in the Faroe Islands, one of the most remote and exotic locations on the globe, choreographer and performer Daphna Horenczyk hosted her loved ones, close friends and professional acquaintances in the premiere of her duet Above&Beyond.
She was able to do this thanks to live-stream technology, which allowed her to welcome audience members from around the globe without having to purchase any flight tickets (her budget would not have allowed that anyway). The feed, which was instrumental to Horenczyk’s creation and presentation, is part of the rapidly developing, seismic technological advances that are refurbishing the human experience and causing Horenczyk to lose sleep.
“This piece comes from a deep frustration that I feel in my gut,” she explains over coffee and sandwiches at a café in Tel Aviv. “I can’t keep up with technology, with social media and all the rest. I find it incredibly difficult to deal with, and it takes up a lot of my energy. This piece emerged from my real concerns about the digital world and its effects on the body.”
Horenczyk is joined by her dancer and partner in Above&Beyond, Bui Rouch. The two dabble with removing their outer layers, stripping down to T-shirts as the sun warms our table, then returning their jackets as clouds pass overhead, remarking about the lovely Tel Aviv winter and how it differs from their current homes; Horenczyk’s in Vienna and Rouch’s in Munich.
The two met while completing their professional studies in Germany. They connected over their non-German backgrounds – Horenczyk hails from Tel Aviv, while Rouch is from the Faroe Islands – and about their approach to performance.
“I’ve been in Munich since my studies. Germany is a very lucrative place to live; it’s a huge country where there is a lot of demand for dance teaching and performance,” Rouch offers.
“When we met, I was really missing people to talk to,” Horenczyk reveals. “It felt like everything was very superficial. In Bui, I found a channel to go deeper into my artistic and philosophical thoughts.”
Horenczyk received an invitation to a residency. “I hadn’t created anything in two years. I had this idea to make a solo for Bui, so I invited him to come with me, to work for two weeks. I wanted to try to monitor attention with highly physical demands and an accumulation of physical tasks.”
The first residency was followed by a second, then a grant, and finally an invitation to premiere the piece in Rouch’s home country. Since the premiere, Above&Beyond has not been performed. A few months ago, Horenczyk received an invitation to present the work at Habait Theater in Jaffa. The performance marks a big moment for Horenczyk, who says she is, at the moment, too busy with final details to feel excited or nervous.
IN HER Above&Beyond, Horenczyk takes on the role of scientist à la 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Rouch plays the part of her guinea pig. Placed amid a rag-tag blend of props, Rouch’s goal is to maintain focus, executing a list of tasks, while inundated with outside information. He is connected to a homemade machine that supposedly measures his progress. As Rouch goes through his score, Horenczyk chats with live-stream viewers.
“I perform the actual attention division test on stage. I know I am performing, but when I get focused on the screen, I can forget that I’m on stage and easily miss my cues,” she admits.
In fact, the live-stream element bears a great deal of significance on Horenczyk’s perception of the performance.
“It’s two completely different experiences,” she explains. “I broadcast from my phone, so there is the entire aesthetic experience of seeing the piece live and then a wholly difference way of seeing it on the live stream.”
Horenczyk adds that this duality is the basis for her next work, a multimedia performance titled Diorama.
Rouch chimes in that the preparation for this piece requires of him to be in top physical shape.
“I do a lot of running. I need to work on stamina in order to perform,” he says. “We start with a set of tasks that are designed to test my attention span to the maximum and to exhaust me. Exhaustion is a theme in the piece, or rather the exhausted mind and body as a metaphor for the overflow of information we have to handle in the 21st century.”
The two drain the last sips of coffee from their mugs and begin to pack up. Though the piece involves many improvisational elements, the actual choreography is completely set and requires rehearsals.
While in Israel, Horenczyk is being hosted by Or Marin and Oran Nahum’s Re-Search in Netanya.
Above&Beyond will be performed on January 26, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., at Jaffa’s Habait Theater. www.habait-theater.org.il.