Tmuna Festival at Tmuna Theater: Dancing with myself

Katz and Maayan have a long history of making work that touches on the psychological, healthy or less so, the personal and the human.

Dancing with myself (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dancing with myself
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Every morning, Erez Maayan wakes up, brushes his teeth and takes a good look at himself in the mirror. Greeting his face is a part of life that Maayan is accustomed to however nothing could prepare him to watch four copies of that face dance around the stage. That this is exactly what he and the audience will do next weekend during the premiere of Can’t Argue With That, Maayan’s new work with longtime artistic partner Anat Katz.
The work will be presented as part of the annual Tmuna Festival at Tmuna Theater.

Katz and Maayan have a long history of making work that touches on the psychological, healthy or less so, the personal and the human. They do so with humor and wit, taking the audience on a journey that often involves a lot of laughter, a bit of head scratching and moments of self-reflection. In According to Law, they shed light on the tenuous relationship between dancer, choreographer and audience member. In Multi, they tested the limits of multitasking, cross-referencing scientific findings about its impossibility while pushing their dancers into chaotic attempts to succeed at simultaneous missions. 
To begin Can’t Argue With That, Maayan had his face turned into silicon masks by Moonlab Studios. He and Katz then turned their cast of four into Maayan clones. “It’s scary to the point that I cried seeing myself on stage that way,” Maayan explains. “It’s a very strange experience to see others as you. To see yourself kissing yourself, hitting yourself… It was a big challenge.”
Maayan says that his face was chosen somewhat randomly, that it could have been anyone’s face. The point was to have the same character contend with itself over and again. “It’s my face because it is. There’s some kind of autobiography in the work. It’s about how I argue with people and the price I pay for it. Pretty early on, it left me and stopped being about me and started to be about one person and the conflicts they have within themselves. It isn’t Inside Out where one is the happy, sad, angry or disgust. But it’s about the conflicts one has with himself, the weird things that happen to a person, the self-love, self-hate, conversations one has with oneself. It sounds kind of cheesy or cliché. But it’s very weird to see the same person on stage more than once.”
Taking four individuals and canceling out their faces and facial expressions did a strange thing to their bodies, it made them incredibly articulate. “The body is very present. Because there are no facial expressions, the body becomes very reactive,” says Maayan.
The dancers are Rony Ben Hamou, Yuval Gal, Yarin Yosef and Uri Dicker, all graduates of the Netanya-based dance program Re-Search. “We chose a group that were already an ensemble and it’s very pleasant. They already know each other and know how to work together. We didn’t have to work to make the group, the already were one,” Maayan says.
Can’t Argue With That is Katz and Maayan’s first joint work after a three-year break from creating together. In that time, the two served as co-artistic directors of Tmuna Theater’s Intimadance Festival twice and made short works independently. Maayan created a performance piece with his brother, Roy Maayan. The time since their last premiere and everything that happened in it allowed the two a clarity Maayan felt was tangible in this process.
“So much has changed since we made Multi. We have lots of children now,” he laughs. Maayan is the father of two-year-old twins, Katz has a five-year-old daughter. 
“We are much more focused. There is no possibility to get really lost. If once each creation was lots and lots of research now, we are much more organized and that’s good. Maybe there’s more freedom to be autobiographical, because we’re in a phase where there is no shame. Since parenting there is no shame. We can go very far with all of the embarrassing, not sexy, personal things. We lost our entire façade. It’s not like we had so much bravado before.”
Taking a step back from making their own work and supporting the process of many other artists also had a hand in making this work run smoothly. “To be outside a work allows you to be very aware. There’s a blind spot when you’re inside. But there’s a new perspective on what can happen, what’s right to happen.”
Maayan made sure to mention how much fun it is to work with Katz, how easily the two found their rhythm back in the studio.
“We are already really in step with each other in work. We have worked together for a long time. We continue where the other left off. Even if we fight and say the other is wrong, we quickly find the third way that we both like. It’s fluid.”
Can’t Argue With That will premiere on November 29 and 30. For more information, visit www.tmu-na.org.il.