Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company back with COVID-inspired performance

It was only after the coronavirus limitations were lifted that Rami Be’er could take stock of what had happened.

 Illusion, dance responds to the pandemic. (photo credit: EYAL HIRSCH)
Illusion, dance responds to the pandemic.
(photo credit: EYAL HIRSCH)

For 41 years, Rami Be’er’s morning routine has included walking from his home on Kibbutz Ga’aton to the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s studios, first as a dancer in the company and, for the last 34 years, as the artistic director and house choreographer. And while the existence of a dance company is not the most stable, schedules fluctuate constantly to include performances around the country, tours, studio showings, creations by Be’er and other artists, sick days, rehearsals and workshops, there was a rhythm to Be’er working life that stayed constant. Until COVID-19.

In the months of lockdowns, though its base is distant from city centers, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s daily functions were significantly impacted. Having weathered turbulence in the past, the company pressed on, adapting to each new regulation and restriction. It was only after the coronavirus limitations were lifted that Be’er could take stock of what had happened. This reflection is the base for his newest creation Illusion (Ta’atua), which will premiere this week at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.

“The whole corona period, with its different waves, the company couldn’t perform but we could work in the studio in capsules. There were all kinds of phases, what was allowed and what wasn’t. Essentially, it shook all of our routines, and it impacted the company and the dancers. We found ourselves in the studio.

“Our existence as we know it was rocked. A lot of our dancers have families abroad so their worry, the fact that they couldn’t leave Israel to see their loved ones, was present with us. All this came into the day-to-day and entered the studio. We tried to bring it to a type of expression, our need for existence and our reality. That’s how the process began,” says Be’er over the phone. 

Be’er is one of the most veteran and respected creative voices in Israel. His creations have been part of the Israeli cultural tapestry for nearly four decades. His works for both adult and young audiences such as Aide Memoire, Upon Reaching the Sun, Kibbutz 360 and Ekodoom have engaged viewers young and old.

 RAMI BE'ER (credit: EYAL HIRSCH) RAMI BE'ER (credit: EYAL HIRSCH)

In addition, Be’er has created works for a long list of companies abroad. As the driving force of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, he has proven time and again that art can be made away from the metropolitan centers of the country. In fact, KCDC’s International Dance Village has become a beacon for dancers from around Israel and abroad. 

Be’er turned to former company member and choreographer Eyal Dadon to echo the sensations present in the dancers’ bodies in a soundtrack. “Eyal was my student and afterward he made his first pieces as a dancer in the company,” explains Be’er. Be’er adds that Dadon was the natural choice following the death of his longtime collaborator, Alex Claude, who passed nearly two years ago. “I asked Eyal if he would be interested in collaborating and he said ‘gladly.’”

As in all of his many works, Be’er took the emotional impetus and translated it to movement. The piece presents a sense of uneasiness, of constant shifts and personal earthquakes. And while Be’er knows that not everyone in the audience will be able to connect to the particulars of the company members’ experience, he is confident that the impact of instability was shared by all over the last two years. “It is a piece that deals with our existence as individuals and a society. It proposes an opportunity for the viewer to connect. The soundtrack, text, movement, stage, lighting and overall, allow the viewer to connect to himself, to his inner world through associations, memories, senses, thoughts and feelings. The piece leaves a wide space for personal interpretation,” Be’er said.

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company will perform Ta’atua at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on December 1. For more information, visit www.kcdc.co.il.