Ready, steady, dance!

Dana Ruttenberg presents her ad-hoc Project 48

Dana Ruttenberg's Project 48 (photo credit: ZOHAR RALT)
Dana Ruttenberg's Project 48
(photo credit: ZOHAR RALT)
As you are tucking yourself into bed this weekend, snug and warm under the covers, a couple dozen artists will finish a 48-hour stretch in which they barely slept, ate or did much else than toil away in the studio. These individuals, the participants of the third edition of Dana Ruttenberg’s annual Project 48, will perform the fruits of their labors tonight at Jaffa’s Warehouse 2. The evening will consist of five premieres of dance works created over the previous 24-hour period. A similar event took place last night, bringing to a close the first round of Ruttenberg’s “speed-dance” formula.
Project 48 is a unique initiative on the annual dance calendar, one that beckons artists and audience members to set aside conventional ways of making and watching dance and to open themselves up to a bit of playfulness. The Bikurei Haitim Dance Center, the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Dance Department of the Ministry of Culture and Sport support the project.
On Wednesday night, 28 choreographers, dancers and “outside eyes,” as Ruttenberg calls them, gathered together to conduct a lottery. As the group anxiously waited, Ruttenberg drew the names out of a hat, creating choreographic teams that moved at once into the studio. She also presented each of the groups with a topic or inspiration for this round of work. The groups worked into the wee hours of the morning, taking breaks only to grab a snack or a quick nap. Most of the artists have met but have not worked together in any professional setting before. With no time to get acquainted, the artists were forced to jump headlong into the creative waters. Both performances, as well as snippets from the studio, are being live-streamed via the Dana Ruttenberg Dance Group’s Facebook page.
For New-York based choreographer Netta Yerushalmi, Project 48 presented a perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure.
“I usually visit Israel twice a year. I was going to be in the country anyway and have enjoyed work engagements sprinkled in during my homeland visits,” she said in a recent interview. “The concept of the project seemed potentially informative to my practice.”
Yerushalmi was born in South Carolina and raised in northern Israel. In 1996 she relocated to New York, where she earned a BFA at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. For the past two decades, Yerushalmi has worked as a dancer and choreographer in her two home countries, though the bulk of her time is spent in the States. She has danced with choreographers such as Doug Varone, Ronit Ziv and Joanna Kotze and has presented work at spaces such as La Mama, Danspace Project and the Suzanne Dellal Center.
Over the past several years, Yerushalmi has been commissioned to create new works for companies around the world, such as the Ririe- Woodbury Dance Company in Salt Lake City and Chicago’s Same Planet, Different World (Niv Shenfeld and Oren Laor recently returned from a commission with this troupe).
To Project 48, in which she will participate as a choreographer, Yerushalmi brings a visually rich esthetic and clear work method.
“My work uses highly investigated and inventive movement as a material for visual and conceptual performance work. I work with abstraction and esthetic de-familiarization in a form that is always human and can never be abstract. My work essentially aims to challenge how meaning is attributed and constructed,” she explained.
While she has put a great deal of time into developing her own process, Yerushalmi’s hope for the weekend is to find new ways of doing things.
“I don’t quite know what to expect of this project. I’m very busy in New York, so I don’t have brainpower to invest in daydreaming about this project.
Luckily, that is probably the best way to prepare. I assume this creative whirlwind will be exhilarating and exhausting.
Mostly because of the collaborative structure and because of the extreme time limitation, what I hope to encounter are new ways of thinking and making my work,” she said.
Project 48 will take place tonight at Warehouse 2 in Jaffa at 10 p.m.
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