The smallest stage

Spanish choreographer El Manisero downsizes at the Room Dances Festival.

El Manisero
In his latest production, Spanish choreographer El Manisero went big. A complex lighting scheme, hordes of props and a large cast filled the stage of Black Noise to the brim. Months were spent devising the ins and outs of this work, which Manisero, also known as Vicente Colomar, presented throughout Europe as both a stage production and an installation.
This week, after getting used to the largesse of big spaces, Manisero will challenge himself with opposite conditions, with the smallest performances spaces possible. As part of the twenty-ninth annual Room Dances Festival, Manisero will present two works performed in close quarters with his audience.
The Room Dances Festival was founded by performer and choreographer Amos Hetz as an ongoing exploration of the boundary between dancer and audience. Over the years, the festival has grown to include an installment in Tel Aviv as well as in Jerusalem and has hosted Israeli and international artists in uniquely intimate performances. In recent years, P.A.R.T.S.-educated performer and choreographer Talia de Vries began to take on a larger role in the curation of the festival. De Vries and Manisero studied together in Belgium and have collaborated several times in the past; including on both works that Manisero will present in Israel.
“It’s very challenging for me, specifically in this moment, to work in small spaces” explained Manisero in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. Speaking from his home in Madrid, Manisero, 46, let in the obstacles that face him and his need to create. “You need distance, you need a big space to see Black Noise. Jumping to smaller spaces is really interesting for me. It changes my perspective and asks me to adapt my tools and how I work; to see what it means when the audience is close. I’m very interested in the relation between spectators and performers, so I like when you travel through different approaches to the situation of being in front of someone, be it a big space, little space, theater, the street or your kitchen.”
For Manisero, embodying the title of choreographer is tricky. While many of his colleagues hail from traditional dance conservatories, Manisero’s entry into the world of movement was less conventional. “It took a lot of time for me to call myself a choreographer,” he said. “I come from theater. It was a big change to start to do these types of pieces, that are physical, where the body is the main point of the show. I don’t know how to categorize myself because I don’t have the technique of a dancer, but I think I dance. The way I work with the body, space, sound belongs more to dance than theater.”
Manisero’s work revolves around the concept of objectification, be it of physical objects or the body. “I work with a lot of objects but in the end the body is always the center of the material. In Black Noise, we used bodies as an object. In this research that I’m busy with right now, I’m working with the relations between image and sound and the detachment between them.”
During his first visit to Israel, Manisero will present the duet Three Events in Time and Space as well as the solo El Manisero. Both works are in process, Manisero explained. “The solo is almost finished, and the duet is a work in progress,” he added.
Regardless of the platform of the work, each of Manisero’s work is, in his eyes, a comment on life. “I need to somehow talk about the process of living. I need to comment. I need to give a joke to give a point of view about the very act of living, being here. I do it through my art. Dance is the language I use to give these comments, reflections about the process of living. When I’m honest with my work, when I can share a very interesting comment or idea, when I’m precise with my feelings about my life and the society I’m surrounded by is when I’m the happiest.”
El Manisero will perform as part of the Room Dances Festival at the Teiva Theater in Jaffa on December 20-22 and at the Leo Model Hall in Jerusalem on December 26-29. For more information, visit