Pulling the cord

Ella Rothschild interweaves storytelling, music, puppetry and dance in her one-woman show ‘Acord.’

Dancer Ella Rothschild performs her one-woman show ‘Acord’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dancer Ella Rothschild performs her one-woman show ‘Acord’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Watching Ella Rothschild rehearse Acord is like peeking into someone else’s jewelry box. Every trinket is neatly organized, fit precisely into its own nook or cranny, sparkling shyly but with great determination. As in the best of cabarets, Rothschild reveals a plethora of talents slowly, one by one, a list that includes dancing, singing, the playing of several instruments, storytelling and her own brand of puppeteering.
Rothschild will premier a new version of Acord this evening at Batsheva Dance Company’s Studio Varda.
“I put all of my talents into this one show,” said Rothschild. “Everything is in this one basket.”
Rothschild, 30, is soft-spoken and thoughtful. Her professional life began as a dancer in the Inbal Pinto Dance Company.
After four years with them, Rothschild took a hop-skip across the Suzanne Dellal Center’s courtyard to Batsheva. She continues to work with Pinto and Pollack both as a performer and as an assistant choreographer.
She spent a total of four years at Batsheva, in the Ensemble and then the main company. It was during her time there that she discovered her singing voice.
“When I was in the Ensemble, we were rehearsing a section where the girls have to sing. I tried it out and discovered that I could. Sing, that is. Around the same time, I started to play guitar, so the two developed together. I started to write songs. I even had a performance at Suzanna [the restaurant across from the Suzanne Dellal Center] of my material.”
Rothschild says all of this a bit sheepishly, as if her budding musical talents are ironic or silly in some way. But silly they are not, not in the least.
The one-woman show is an evolution of a site-specific work that she created for Hanut 31 Gallery, a south Tel Aviv performance space.
“Hanut 31 invited me to create a work in the space,” said Rothschild over the phone, minutes after leaving our meeting. She called to make sure that this bit of information was noted. “Without their help, this piece wouldn’t have happened.”
Since the beginning of her foray into the world of choreography, Rothschild has preferred unconventional performance spaces to the theater. She has created works in construction sites, an industrial elevator and a parking lot.
“I am challenged by different spaces, they make my brain work,” she said. Inspired by the close quarters of the gallery, Rothschild devised a pulley system, upon which she balanced a handful of artifacts. On one string hangs a toy horse, on another a small suitcase. A third cord keeps a book suspended in the air over an antique desk. Each object has its own character and moment in Rothschild’s limelight as she glides around the space, both a puppeteer and marionette.
“The research for the objects was really long. It took time until I found the specific things that I needed for the piece. Each one is a symbol for something. The desk is a kind of island, the horse represents a kind of love story and the book is a diary that I wrote,” she explained.
When Batsheva approached her to present Acord in the company’s space, Rothschild quickly understood that changes were necessary.
Moving Acord from the intimate setting of Hanut 31 to the vast Studio Varda required a lot of shuffling and shifting.
“Even though it’s a solo, I don’t work alone. I have a dialogue with many people around me, from the musician to the designers to peers that advise me,” said Rothschild.
To create the sense of four walls, set designer Zohar Shoef built a room made of aluminum bars. Lighting designer Omer Sheizaf was elemental in bringing the magical glow of the Hanut to Suzanne Dellal.
“It’s not a new show but I feel it’s a new production. In this version, I can relate to the space inside and outside of the area I am in.”
Acord will be presented at Studio Varda tonight at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.batsheva.co.il or www.ellarothschild.com.