Kitchen to stage

Trained and specializing in movement, dancers often find staying put more challenging than even the most technically demanding steps.

Sderot Adama Dance Company  (photo credit: AMALIA BEN GAL)
Sderot Adama Dance Company
(photo credit: AMALIA BEN GAL)
 For dancers, one of the hardest things to do is to stand still.
Trained and specializing in movement, dancers often find staying put more challenging than even the most technically demanding steps. This need to be in constant action is something many can relate to. As everyday life speeds up, finding a calm moment becomes trickier and, often, impossible.
Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror, partners in life and work, have tasted many different lifestyles. They began their career as choreographers in Tel Aviv, hustling and bustling to get their art seen, to make a name for themselves and to gain exposure. After many successful years in Israel’s center, the two did the unthinkable (then), relocating to the quiet environs of Mitzpe Ramon. It was there that their artistic, holistic vision came to life by means of a desert-based dance center and company. For 16 years, Ben-Gal and Dror operated Hangar Adama, which hosted performances and festivals, drawing culture consumers out of big cities and into their slower, more peaceful setting.
And then, last year, the pair shifted locations once again, this time to Sderot, on the Gaza Strip border.
Their many shifts and changes have deeply impacted the couple’s research, bringing them to explore how life and work meet and where gaps can be found between activities. In their newest creation, which was predominantly choreographed by Dror, the dancers are often asked not to move.
“There is a lot of nothing in this piece, which is very hard for the dancers to execute. It’s about the space between the movements, and it something we are dealing with a lot lately,” Dror explains.
Titled All’Arrabbiata, the dance piece brings elements from the couple’s home life, such as cooking, to the stage.
“The whole idea of the performance was an attempt to make a meeting between something very everyday and familiar to dance on a high level. We chose the table as a symbol for the kitchen, the heart of the home. In psychology, they say that food is the way to love. We started with the dancers making sauce for pasta. Many times, the way that we worked was to ask the dancers to chop onions and then take away the knife and onions and stay with the movement. It started like pantomime but eventually became its own language. We call it ‘documentary choreography,’” she says.
The blending together of life and work was something that Ben-Gal and Dror experienced from the outset of the creative process.
“Liat made incredible amounts of material in no time at all. She would be in the kitchen, cooking, and dancing. The studio and home became very connected,” smiles Ben-Gal.
In the coming months, the pair will open the doors to the Sderot Adama Center, home to the Sderot Adama Dance Company.
“We are just finishing the renovations now,” says Ben-Gal. “We recently had a three-day festival. We had no water or electricity yet, but it was really magical.
We are very excited to get everything hooked up and really start things here.”
Whereas their first move exchanged the city for the village, this move trades seclusion for a political hotbed.
“Sderot is incredible in its intensity,” says Ben-Gal.
“It’s sitting on a political volcano.”
Although many may imagine rockets and sirens, what Ben-Gal, Dror and their four children found was a thriving pocket of cultural activity.
“On Thursday nights, you can’t find a seat in any restaurant or bar. There’s an awakening of the towns and villages around Sderot. I know from the young people around us that the nightlife is very strong.
When people come here, they realize that their idea of the place was very different from what’s really going on. There is a stigma that if something is from Sderot it’s not good, but that is very much not the case,” he stresses.
Next week, the two will return to Tel Aviv, breaking a long-standing personal ban on performing in the city, to present their newest work.
“We didn’t leave Tel Aviv because something bad happened. The desire to learn something else and to grow ourselves made us distance ourselves from the scene. Many journalists ask what choreographers influenced me, and there are a lot; but weather also influences me, having four children, the political atmosphere here – they all influence me as well. For a long time, we didn’t perform in Tel Aviv because it was more important for us that people would leave the city and come see us where we were. Many people are put off by that statement. Not to perform in Tel Aviv was an artistic choice. If you come to Sderot, it has a lot of meaning. We received an invitation to perform at the Einav Cultural Center.
We decided to accept and not say no. I felt that dance is opening itself up from the Suzanne Dellal Center, and I wanted to support that movement,” says Dror.
‘All’Arrabbiata’ will be performed on January 16 at the Einav Cultural Center. For more information, visit EinavCenter. To read about Nir Ben-Gal and Liat Dror, visit