History repeating

An homage to influential choreographer Noa Eshkol is presented in ‘Entropy.’

‘ENTROPY’ by Noa Shadur (photo credit: GADI DAGON)
‘ENTROPY’ by Noa Shadur
(photo credit: GADI DAGON)
As the saying goes, history repeats itself.
However, repetition is just one of the many things that history “does.” The past can haunt us, chase us, be utterly forgotten or blocked out, and has the ability to deeply influence the future. At the heart of Mifal Hapais’ new choreography project, Following Footprints, is the notion that history can and should be present in our minds and thoughts.
Tonight, choreographer Noa Shadur will be the third and final artist to premier a new work, inspired by a classic Israeli dance creation, in this series. Entropy will be performed in a custom-designed space at the Tel Aviv Museum, built especially for the purposes of this project.
At the onset of the project, prospective choreographers were presented with a list of seminal Israeli choreographies. The mission was to use one of these works as a springboard for a new creation. Shadur chose Noa Eshkol’s 1966 creation Suite.
“I was not very familiar with Eshkol’s work before I began this process,” said Shadur in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “Once I was exposed to the dances, they really hit me. They are very minimalistic and beautiful. There is something very pure in the dances. They have very formulaic structures. In order to execute the dances, you have to really use your brain to understand. Thought is necessary to perform these dances.”
Eshkol was a singular and driving force in the local dance community starting in the mid 1950s. Her dances, which were choreographed using a movement notation system of Eshkol’s invention, are still performed to this day, often by original members of her company. In spite of her significant contribution to dance, Eshkol’s name is not one often mentioned among today’s dance practitioners.
To begin, Shadur asked Eshkol’s No. 1 dancer, Racheli Nul-Kahana, to teach her some of the dances.
“She was very dedicated to teaching us and to our process,” said Shadur.
For the choreographer and her five female dancers, learning Eshkol’s choreography marked a definitive change from their daily doings.
“It put us in a different world from the one that we know. The dancers had to adjust themselves to the minimalism of the dances. They had to learn to understand the system that Eshkol used.”
Outside of the studio, Shadur found herself immersed in literature.
“I read a lot about geometric structures, numerical series, the connection between form and the system that builds that structure. I also read a lot about the period in which Eshkol was creating. At the end of the 1950s, a few years after she founded her company, computers and electronic music were invented.
There was also the invention of robotics and the focus on NASA. The connection between culture and science was very strong. Eshkol’s works connected to the cultural advances and ambiance of the times,” explained Shadur.
From the research phase, Shadur and her dancers began to create new material.
“We started to interpret the dances and make new material using the dances as physical and mental inspiration.”
This process was entirely different from Shadur’s previous works.
“This is the first work I’ve made that has no external theme of topic,” she said.
Shadur is one of the strongest up-and-coming choreographers on the local scene. Her previous works We Do Not Torture People, Calypso, Into the Night and Shifters have purveyed a crystal-clear aesthetic comprised of sharp movement, captivating music and a whole lotta chic. She is the youngest of the three artists chosen to participate in Following Footprints.
Her peers in the project, Ronen Itzhaki and Barak Marshall, premiered their works two weeks ago.
As one of the participants of Following Footprints, Shadur received a budget of NIS 200,000, an unprecedented amount in the dance community, to research and develop a new work. Artistic director Naomi Perlov worked closely with Shadur and her dancers throughout the past several months, offering bits of advice and wisdom to aid the process.
“I tip my hat to Naomi,” said Shadur in a recent interview. “Without her, none of this could have happened. Working with her has been a true pleasure.
This project has been very significant for me.
It sent me into new places that completely absorbed me.”
Entropy will be presented at the Tel Aviv Museum tonight at 6:30 p.m. as well as on February 7 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on February 18 at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.tamuseum.org.il.