The prophet

Sharona Florsheim’s new piece at the Between Heaven and Hell Festival explores ‘being danced.’

Sharona Florsheim’s new piece at the Between Heaven and Hell Festival explores ‘being danced’ (photo credit: PR)
Sharona Florsheim’s new piece at the Between Heaven and Hell Festival explores ‘being danced’
(photo credit: PR)
As a secular woman, choreographer Sharona Florsheim spends a great deal of her time considering the spiritual realm. Florsheim, 48, has been dancing, teaching, choreographing and improvising for more than two decades in Israel and abroad. A graduate of the Dance Unlimited program at the Arnhem Dance Academy in Holland, Florsheim’s work has been presented throughout Europe and Africa. The founder of Noga Dance Company, an ensemble of religious Israeli women, Florsheim’s interaction with faith and religion is a source of great inspiration and tension. Her newest work, created for the annual Between Heaven and Earth Festival in October, deals with the connection between the physical and spiritual realms.
On Tuesday night, Florsheim will present Connectivity Practices at Warehouse 2 in Jaffa. The work will be shown alongside Ella Ben- Aharon’s All-Most.
“The topic of this year’s Between Heaven and Earth Festival was prophecy,” she explains. There is gentleness to Florsheim’s speaking voice that is accentuated by a hint of a European accent.
“I immediately went to the Bible, specifically to the books of Jonah and Isaiah. What interested me was the question ‘What is in the foundation of the prophecy?’ There is a connection between man and something beyond that I would call God. In prophecy, God speaks to man to pass on a message. That notion doesn’t exist as much today. I wanted to look into how that connection and our participation in it exist today. What is the connection between the spiritual and the physical world?” she elaborates.
In Isaiah, Florsheim was particularly taken with one sentence, Isaiah 54:7, which reads, “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you.”
“A lot of the work, which is physical, is inspired by that sentence and by the notion of emptying and filling up, leaving and returning, catch and release. In that sentence there is a promise that even if we part for this moment, the connection is still there. It’s a reassurance that we aren’t alone,” she says.
With her two dancers, Keren Ben- Altabet and Tamar Nevo, Florsheim began to devise a number of exercises.
“We asked ourselves what a brief moment is and what is the smallest moment that the body can experience,” she recounts.
Over the course of three months in the studio, the three women put together nine exercises or practices, which together comprise a type of ritual. In one, Ben-Altabet explores various ways of contracting and releasing areas of her body. In another, the two women repeat the same word over and again, facing each other.
Though the name would imply a search for intimacy or closeness, Connectivity Practices is less about interpersonal relations and more about using the body as a means to connect with the spirit.
“When I improvise, there is a sense that sometimes you dance and sometimes you are ‘being danced,’” explains Florsheim. “Sometimes you are only observing something that is being done through you, and when that happens there is a feeling of grace. There is no effort and no intention because you are completely in the thing. There is a sense of being one with yourself and something else that I don’t know how to name. It’s a very clear physical sensation and awareness.
Being danced is something very unique and very gratifying. Knowing that and experiencing that, I was very interested in what we have to do to be able to ‘be danced.’” An original score by Eldar Baruch enhances the sense of tension and otherworldliness in Connectivity Practices.
‘Connectivity Practices’ will be presented on December 24 and February 28 at Warehouse 2 in Jaffa.
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