Israeli based Bouras – House for independent Art was recently brought to my attention by singer/songwriter and the group’s project manager, Noa Babayof emailing me about Bouras’ video-dance online exhibition titled RETZEF. After viewing the five intriguing and very different videos, I was inspired to write about both the project and the artists involved. Babayof explained that one of the top goals for Bouras is to bring artists from different disciplines together for the purpose of creating new work. According to their website, “Retzef (Hebrew for ‘Sequence’) is the digital fruit that grew out of a collaboration between dancers & musicians.”
Because I was unfamiliar with this organization, I emailed several questions to Babayof which she was gracious enough to answer. First I inquired about the genesis of Retzef. She answered that the project was primarily aimed at promoting independent modern dance and choreographers.
“Because unlike other fields of art, such as music, the independent choreographers are still very much struggling to get their new projects going without any support. This project helped get many artists (both choreographers & musicians) to collaborate for the first time, while making new art. We chose only 5 for this projects, but many others whom we didn’t select, continued working together,” Babayof wrote.
Retzef is the culmination of a two year project featuring artists who had never met before collaborating on this online exhibition. Dance artist Sivan Peled worked with Composer Ofir Cohen, Eyal Dadon with Itai Weissman, Shuli Enosh with Maoz Peled, Shai-Li Kremer with Ophir Bernshtam, and Michal Gil was paired with experimental music band GOG.
Babayof related that Bouras sent out an open call notice throughout Israel for musicians who were interested in participating. From the original music that they received, Bouras created a data base of more than 100 compositions from a wide and diverse group of musical genres.
The second stage was to put out a call for independent choreographers to participate in the project by selecting pieces of music from Bouras’ data base. Their selection was the music that each choreographer worked with to create a new dance for camera.
“In the final stage, after a meticulous selection, five works were chosen to be filmed at the Performing Arts Center in Be’er Sheva, in sets that were designed and built specifically for each work,” Babayof answered.
The choreography for all five of the works in this online exhibit involved intense emotions and the sets that were created often evoked in me a sense of claustrophobia resulting from being confined to ones home during the Covid pandemic. I was very much impressed with the quality of the camera work and the editing.
The video titled Mitzvah Tantz is choreographed by dance artist Sivan Peled; music by Ofir Cohen, best known for playing on unique musical instruments such as the Santoor and the Oudas; performed by musician Morteza Neydavoud; and wonderfully performed by “creative dancer” Roni Mar Halachmi. The set is a number of fluorescent looking tubes placed on the floor and hanging sparsely around the performance area. Peled’s choreography led this viewer to deem that Halachmi is both trapped by and in fear of this harshly lit maze, causing all of her worse fears to rise to the surface. The labyrinth could be representative of any situation in her life, but I was left with a belief that at the conclusion Halachmi had reached a point of acceptance or at least one of resolve.
Eyal Dadon choreographed and performed in Bands of DJs to music by Itai Weissman who is originally from Be’er Sheva, in the south of Israel but now living and working in Amsterdam as a sound artist and academic educator. Dadon’s movement is also restricted inside a narrow room lined with wooden shelves and sheets of plywood strewn over the floor. His movement suggests both fear of where he is coupled with a desire to study his surroundings. Bands of DJs appears to be a complete collaboration between the choreographer, lighting designer, set designer and the editor. Dadon is an amazing mover and performer but the final product is weakened rather than enhanced by the over use of special effects and the length of the work. That said, Bands of DJs is indeed intriguing.
Q is choreographed and performed by dancer, dance & movement teacher and therapist Shuli Enosh to music by Indie artist and singer- songwriter Maoz Peled. Enosh’s strong emotions come from inside, seemingly uninspired by her surroundings – an open stage with a textured floor patterns created by the lighting designer. Enosh has chosen to perform in a tee shirt and flowered panties and although the movement vocabulary is limited, her performance in Q is highly physical. Here the camerawork and editing greatly enhances Enosh’s vision and Peled’s exciting score is also easy on the ear. Enosh is a winner of the Minister of Culture Award for Performing Dancer (2014).
Dancer and choreographer Shai-Li Kremer chose the beautiful romantic music and lyrics by electronic, house, pop and synth composer Ophir Bernshtam to choreograph and perform in her work titled Lately. The text on this video’s page reads (in part) “It’s the moment that you realize everything is temporary.” Kremer’s work speaks to loss and remembrance. She is a lovely mover and the work opens very strongly but sadly soon dissolves. There is a wonderful kernel to a much more powerful statement and I hope that Kremer waters that seed and continues with her original opening. The set, a walled in space with multi-colored walls does not speak to the richness of Bernshtam’s lyrics.
Black Dream is my favorite dance-video of the five on this exhibition due to its mysterious nature, the eerie score by GOG and Gil’s powerful and haunting performance. Choreographed and performed by Michal Gil, the mystery begins with the very first shots of Gil’s gold sequined dress and the somewhat out of focus camera work. As it clears, one sees the dollhouse-like setting, Gil sitting on a small bed and a single chair on the opposite side of the room. The remainder of the piece includes shots of only parts of Gil. Her emotionless face as she slides down the ochre colored wall, a hand clutching at a piece of cloth, a section of her face with parted lips, and finally a closeup of Gil’s silent screams. Black Dream is a dark dream in brilliant color.
Bouras – House for Independent Art has provided to these artists something that few are given, time to work on one piece, designers to create incredible sets and lighting, along with videographers who know how to film and edit dance. All the dance-videos in Retzef are not equally stunning, but each is rich with powerful moments and I am certain that these five dance artists will continue to grow with the knowledge that they absorbed during this project.
Retzef was produced by Bouras – House for Independent Art. The Art Director was Dudu Hemed; Production, Photography & Design was by Maayan Kaufman; On-set Production & PR was provided by Livnat Flechner; and General Production by Tal Label and Noa Babayof.
The Production Crew included: Cactus- Photography, Directing & Editing- Gil Nemet; Video Photographer: Almog Dahan; Makeup: Tanya Beauty; Kol-Tech- Lighting & set design: Yossi “Tzekatz” Ben David; Lighting and set design: Mor Avitan and Matias Daniel; The Performing Arts Center Vice-Director-Igal Roitman; Head of Maintenance Department : Itzik Shlomo; and Logo Design: Effie Kishon | Website programming: Yelena Korvakova.
To view the Retzef dance-video exhibition, please click HERE.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Band of DJs by Eyal Dadon – Music by Itai Weissman – Photo by Maayan Kaufman