Theater meets dance in ‘W’

Local choreographer Talia Beck unveils her latest work at the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam.

LOCAL DANCERS practicing inside the vast hangar at the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam. (photo credit: Courtesy)
LOCAL DANCERS practicing inside the vast hangar at the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For many years, artists and art critics have struggled to define what the term “dance theater” means. The meeting between two pillars of performance art has fostered countless variations, from abstract movement to political opuses to dance-based dramas. While it is clear to Talia Beck that dance theater is the medium of her new piece, the borders of this elusive genre are as yet unclear to her. Tonight, Beck will unveil W at the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam.
“Throughout the process I have been teaching dance theater workshops. I am often asked what dance theater is and we can’t exactly say. I am teaching materials that emerged from the process and that is what dance theater means to me,” explains Beck over the phone.
Beck, 35, speaks softly and deliberately and is forthcoming about her apprehension about putting thoughts into words. She began her career with Vertigo Dance Company, where she spent two seasons working with Noa Wertheim and other choreographers. After two years in Europe, Beck returned to Israel in 2002 and was snatched up by Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack. For the following years, Beck performed with the company as well as serving as a rehearsal director. In 2009, Pinto and Pollack invited Beck to be the first outside choreographer to create a work for the troupe. Beck responded with the all-female piece Saudade. In 2010, she was awarded the Ministry of Culture and Sport’s Prize for Young Choreographer. She has since created several works including the solo Ma’atzama and the quartet The Botany of Desire.
To join her on this journey, Beck called upon actor and performer Zvika Fishzon. Many will recognize Fishzon from works of Pinto and Pollack’s. A longtime collaborator with the company, Fishzon has served as the unspoken narrator of pieces such as Oyster and Trout. His stage presence harks back to the stars of silent films, at once comical and deeply candid.
Though they had worked together many times before, Beck felt that she wanted to see where a partnership could take them.
“We’ve worked together for a long time but I didn’t know him in this way. In this process we rubbed up against one another, not just bodies but our lives, our ideas.”
W marks Beck’s first time performing in her own work.
“It is definitely more stressful,” says Beck of the experience. “I can’t be an outside eye in this piece. The big picture is less clear to me.”
Beck was inspired by Fishzon to break ways with her long stage hiatus.
“I knew I had to put myself in this process because I wanted to learn from his body at as close a range as possible,” she explains. “I felt I had to be in the piece so that I could learn his body from as close as possible. I wanted his type of movement. In this piece, he is doing things that he’s never done and that I’ve never seen him do. Ee both are. The meeting with the body that is less familiar because he isn’t a dancer. The practice was very different for me. It was important to me that each of us would blend into the other’s area, not to leave us as ‘an actor’ and ‘a dancer.’ I wanted to show our abilities, to show that Zvika is an incredible dancer.”
Over the past several months, Beck and Fishzon have met in Bat Yam on a regular basis.
“I received a six-month residency at Kelim and it was the biggest gift I could have received,” says Beck.
Working in the vast hangar of Kelim, Beck and Fishzon were able to explore impulses and ideas from minute to enormous. Their path was unknown to both of them, uncovered bit by bit as the days wore on.
“We did a lot of improvisation,” Beck says. “We also worked with two architects and a musician [who] were with us from the beginning.”
And though taking on a new way of working had presented its hurdles, Beck found great freedom in this process.
“It was my least challenging process to date, mostly because the partnership between us was so complete. There was a lot of listening, learning and acceptance. I feel that we were able to support one another, to specify one another and to push one another.”
‘W’ will be performed tonight at Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam. For more information, visit