Know thyself

Gil Kerer looks inside for inspiration.

Choreography by Gil Kerer (photo credit: JESÚS ROBISCO)
Choreography by Gil Kerer
(photo credit: JESÚS ROBISCO)
 The moment Gil Kerer began to move from being a dancer to being a choreographer, two words popped into his mind.
These words traveled with Kerer from stage to stage, project to project, company to company and country to country, and eventually inspired him to don the choreographer’s cap.
“I think that the choice to choreograph came from a need I felt ever since I started dancing at age 14,” says Kerer over breakfast in central Tel Aviv. Kerer is greeneyed, well-spoken and candid about his learning curve in choreography.
“I had a kind of crisis of faith in the profession. Everything seemed suddenly very random and meaningless. I wanted to prove to myself that a creative process could be deliberate and meaningful to me and that the finished product would be coherent. In all of the abstractness of the dance medium, I wanted to see if I could narrow down the endless options into something real. I made the solo Dive in late 2011. The process began with the words ‘know thyself.’ I wanted to see if being in the studio and on stage could help me to know myself. If dance could help me to identify with myself and others.”
On Saturday night, Kerer will begin a mini-tour of Israel with a three-part program that includes Dive, the quartet Silent Parts and the duet Between Us. Performances will take place in Kibbutz Ga’aton, Tel Aviv, Pardes Hanna and Jerusalem.
Kerer, 28, was born and raised in Pardes Hanna. His dance life began in the crisp costumes of a folk troupe. From there Kerer sought out contemporary dance training, eventually joining Vertigo Dance Company. He has performed in works by many independent choreographers, such as Maya Brinner, Rachel Erdos, Niv Shenfeld and Oren Laor and Dana Ruttenberg. Kerer comfortably and earnestly inhabits the spotlight.
In 2009, Kerer took part in visual artist Anisa Ashkar’s installation Maskhara. Kerer and Ashkar’s producer, Anat Cederbaum, became fast friends. Recognizing a common language, Kerer and Cederbaum decided to collaborate.
“I think that because Anat didn’t come from a dance background, I felt that she would help me not to drown in dance but to open more options. We talked a lot about the kind of experience we want to have as audience members and the kind of experience we would like to give.
We kept going over the same three words; ‘simple, universal and emotional.’” In the studio, Cederbaum and Kerer took turns running rehearsal.
“We had a very clear schedule. One day I would bring in an idea and we would work on it, the next she would take over,” says Kerer.
Somewhere along the line, the two became a couple and are expecting a baby boy early this summer.
The premier of Dive was warmly received, opening up many doors for Kerer as a choreographer. Just a few short months later, he was approached by Jerusalem’s Machol Shalem Dance House to create a new work. Thanks to grants from the National Lottery and the Israel Union of Performing Artists, Kerer was able to invite four dancers into the piece. Having recently left Vertigo Dance Company, Kerer called on his fellow former company members Alon Karniel, Snir Nakar, Ruth Valensi and Gal Antzel to join him in the studio.
“We worked with something very practical, with daily life and its demands. It was about the feeling of everyday-ness and about the desire to feel more. What’s the place of spirituality when you have to take out the trash?” When the piece premiered in 2012, Kerer was left unsatisfied.
“I think I skipped a big step. I went from dancing in my own solo to working with four dancers where I’m on the outside. So much of what I know is right and wrong in a process I understand from being inside as a dancer.”
For the upcoming performances, Kerer got the cast back together to explore the piece with new perspective.
“Going back to these pieces is really enjoyable. I love opening things up and seeing where they can go. I’m also much better at editing myself now,” he says. At its premier, Silent Parts stood at 25 minutes. Today, it is 13 minutes long.
Having understood the downside of being outside of the work, Kerer opted to dance in his next piece.
Together with Ayala Frenkel, Kerer created Between Us.
“I wanted to look at the power dynamic and struggle of a heterosexual couple. There is a certain type of vulnerability that comes along with passion and desire and I wanted to look at that. I think we have this desire to be together but also apart. To be alone but to feel connected. I wanted to present the complexity of togetherness,” he explains. In the upcoming shows, Kerer will perform Between Us with veteran dancer Alex Shmorak.
Having recently returned from a residency in Uruguay, where he created the solo The Child, Kerer is carefully planning his next steps.
“I would be happy to find opportunities to create bigger works in supportive environments.”
Between Us will take place at Kibbutz Ga’aton on April 16 at 8:30 p.m. (04-985-9737), at Inbal Theater on April 19 at 8:30 p.m. (, on May 1 at 8:30 p.m. at the Pardes Hanna Performing Arts Center (04-627-1420) and in the Leo Model Hall in Jerusalem on May 2 at 8:30 p.m. (053-335-8210). For more information, visit