DANIELLE AND Doron Gallia-Kind will premiere two new creations on the stages of Tel Aviv’s Tmuna theater as part of the annual Tmuna Festival, next week. (photo credit: Ermis Christodoulou)
DANIELLE AND Doron Gallia-Kind will premiere two new creations on the stages of Tel Aviv’s Tmuna theater as part of the annual Tmuna Festival, next week. (photo credit: Ermis Christodoulou)


Tmuna Festival: Reflecting on the past and future

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts” – this iconic phrase begins a monologue in the second act of William Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy, As You Like It. In the history of theater, this speech became synonymous with the notion that the world can be compared to a theater stage, thus rendering the lives of men and women into an ongoing play.

It is also an apt description for the kind of performances put together by creative duo Doron and Danielle Gallia-Kind, a couple who routinely blur the boundaries between the private and the performative, turning their relationship and personal routines into material for staged creations. How far are they willing to go? Quite the extra mile, if you consider that the pair tied the knot on stage seven different times for their duet wedding.

The Gallia-Kinds, who currently reside in the Netherlands, are returning to Israel next week to premiere two new creations on the stages of Tel Aviv’s Tmuna theater as part of the annual Tmuna Festival – an interdisciplinary celebration of performance, which includes a diverse lineup of works across different mediums: from visual arts to dance, theater, music, performance and literature.

When life and art seep into one another

The couple met in their late teens through ANAT, a community of artists dedicated to creation and social work that Danielle founded when she was 17. Much like the work they would later develop as romantic and artistic partners, “the community is based on the idea that art and life may be two separate things, but they seep into and support one another,” Danielle points out in conversation with The Jerusalem Post.

The two relocated for Danielle to pursue an MA in Performance Practices at ArtEz University of the Arts. They embarked on their most recent trip to Israel for their latest wedding performance, which they carried out at Jerusalem’s Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art. Why do they keep doing it? “Well, if you think of it, a wedding is already such a naturally performative ritual,” muses Doron. “You have the couple, who are the obvious performers at this event; you have the guests, who can be seen as the audience members; and you have the chuppah, which is the stage or scene of the performance.”

“Doron and I were together for years and then we broke up. When we got back together we realized we were in it for good, and started wondering what that meant for us,” Danielle continues. “We definitely wanted to commit and celebrate our love, but we also wanted to raise questions and deal with our fear of matrimony as an institution and weddings as an industry. Creating a performance was our way to cope with these difficulties. Each time we do it we go on stage together, name all the reasons why we shouldn’t get married and then proceed to do it anyway,” she laughs.

At the festival the couple will be sharing an evening, performing separately yet back to back with two different solos. In What-Whater, Doron – actor, director, producer and educator – reflects on the alienation intrinsic to immigration from a physical and linguistic viewpoint. Inspired by the relocation to Europe, he explores how his body and voice change as he expresses himself differently in each language. “My voice plays a big role in this work. I use it like I would use a prop on stage. I try to extend it, limit it, alter it. Through this voice work, I speak a sort of new language, which opens up new ways of being interpreted and understood.”

Danielle, a dancer, choreographer and educator, will present Solo for a Yoga Master, a work that was born out of a long quest for a yoga master and an even longer journey in which she questioned her own connection to traditional dance and somatic studies, attempting to forge educational alternatives along the way.

Eventually, the artist met the Jaffa-based Vijnana yoga teacher Moran Bezner and the lessons she learned from her were the impetus for the piece. The work was originally supposed to be performed by Bezner, who was injured and replaced by dancer Maria Mavridou. “This turn of events gave the piece a new direction,” Danielle says. “Now it also addresses the issue of oral tradition. What happens to the lesson when the teacher changes and so does the student? What changes about the movement, and what will always remain the same?”

A home for independent art

Dr. Erez Maayan Shalev, artistic director of the festival, says that much of the other dance and performance works share the intimate nature of the Gallia-Kinds’ solos. “What sets this festival apart from other such events in Israel is that it is dedicated to independent art,” he explains. “Tmuna is the largest theater presenting the work of independent artists, so the festival sheds a limelight on the theater’s social role in this country.”

“Tmuna is the largest theater presenting the work of independent artists, so the festival sheds a limelight on the theater’s social role in this country.”

Dr. Erez Maayan Shalev, artistic director of Tmuna Festival

Maayan Shalev insists that while Tmuna is home for independent creators, it is “not a fringe theater. I’ll tell you why I don’t like the word ‘fringe’. It assumes that there is an artistic center and that everything that doesn’t fit into it is on the fringes. I don’t see it that way. I choose works based on their quality and value for the viewers, whether they will be blockbusters drawing crowds or lesser known names.”

Indeed, the list of participating artists does include some superstars, such as Austrian choreographer Simon Mayer who will perform his work Being Moved, or French author Philippe Besson, who will participate in a talk with Israeli filmmaker Shlomi Elkabetz to explore his motivation for writing and whose book, Lie with Me, has been adapted into a play that will be performed at the festival.

The artistic bill also features names that might not be as familiar to local theater dwellers, like the Fulcro ensemble, a group of actors who emigrated to Israel when Russia invaded Ukraine this year to flee the war. “These are normal people like you and me whose lives were suddenly and tragically upended, yet they continue to create, which is awe-inspiring. They are top performers and their show, a cabaret that references Germany pre-World War II, is utterly colorful and mind-blowing,” enthuses Maayan Shalev.

In the dance category, Maayan Shalev is especially excited to host a rendition of choreographers Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal’s Two Room Apartment, a work from 1987 that explores the couple’s relationship and domestic life through movement. In a special performance, Dror and Ben Gal will dance a part of their work, followed by a duet by real-life and choreographic couple Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, who created an adaptation of Two Room Apartment in 2012 that has become its own revered dance piece. Dance researcher Dr. Idit Suslik will host a panel with all four performers, sharing her insights into their distinguished bodies of work.

While he didn’t decide in advance on a theme for the 11th edition of the festival, Maayan Shalev believes that one common thread that weaves together all the different creations is a fascination with the past, which translates into evocative works that turn toward the future. “Whether it’s choreographer Rachel Erdos who is bringing together on stage women of all ages to dig into the female experience throughout life in her project Too Old for this Sh**t, or choreographer Ido Feder exploring his personal experience of grief to make a larger political and social statement in Dynasty, all of the artists are sharing something that is at once personal and collective, and most importantly, very real.”

The Tmuna Festival takes place from December 6-12, 8 Soncino Street, Tel Aviv. Tickets can be purchased here.

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