Sisyphean Cycles

Roni Dori
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Roni Dori

Three women wearing the same outfits dance identical steps to the sound of music, captivating the audience. They start in unison, break out into minimalist solos, and then go back to dancing together. The disturbing cyclical nature of the performance intensifies.

Maya Brinner?s new work, ?Red Ladies,? is one of the most intriguing pieces in the 20th annual Curtain Up Festival, opening tonight at Tel Aviv?s Suzanne Dellal Center.

A 20-minute trio performed by Brinner, Rita Komisarchik and Shany Ben-Haim, ?Red Ladies? is Brinner?s way of critiquing culture, with its production-line quality and all the imitation found within it. ?While working on the piece, it felt like there were three carbon-copy characters trying to break out and be different using the few tools at their disposal,? says Brinner. ?It threw us into the world of the manufacturing plant, the factory, of laborers working in an oppressive environment, working on a production line, who accept this bitter fate but also hate it.?

As someone who devotes herself to her studies at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School?s directing program ?based on a decision that I want to [eventually] stop dancing,? as she says she finds a way to combine the two worlds. Doesn?t she feel a need to focus on one area? ?I?m constantly asked this question, but somehow it [all] seems like the same world to me. They are defined differently, but as far as I?m concerned they feel the same. Film is also movement, you move people inside the frame.?

Need for precision

Maya Brinner immigrated to Israel at the age of 5 from California, where she was born to an Israeli mother and an American father. She has always danced, she says, but until she began studying at the high school affiliated with the Jerusalem Academy of Dance and Music, her knowledge in the field was limited to attending various extra-curricular classes. During her military service, where she was designated as being an outstanding dancer, she also joined Noa Dar?s dance troupe, where she was a dancer and creative consultant.

At the age of 23, she began dancing with Emmanuel Gat?s troupe, which at the time was working on its interpretation of Stravinsky?s ?The Rite of Spring? ?(2003?). Immediately after that, she began studying at Sam Spiegel, hoping to determine whether dancing was her true destiny.

?I felt as if I?d never decided that this is what I wanted to do with my life, and that bothered me,? she says. ?I felt as if I had been rolling from an extracurricular class, to high school, to doing this professionally with some sort of ambition of ?this is what I want to do? but the decision had never crystallized in my mind. It didn?t excite me anymore; I lost a bit of my passion for it.?

Her plan did not exactly work out. Brinner is now completing her studies at the Jerusalem school and last year even directed the video for Rami Fortis? song, ?Autobianchi Blondes.? But since 2005, she has been choreographing pieces for various events: ?There?s Nothing Sexy about Mopping? ?(2005?) and ?Under Colored Nails? ?(2007?) for the Intimadance Festival; a duet and video performance, ?Between the Bed and the Floor? ?(2008?) for the Israel Festival along with Aviv Ivgy. In between all that, she presented the video performance ?Room for Thoughts? ?(2007?) at the Tmuna Theater?s Genre Festival. This year she won the artist?s prize awarded by Teva Pharmaceuticals.

?Red Ladies,? which appears along a work curated by Noa Dar, is also accompanied by an original and disturbing soundtrack by Yuval Mesner. A sense of helplessness settles over the work at a fairly early stage, specifically through the use of dancers dancing in unison, a top-notch aesthetic element. ?In a certain sense, it is really a piece for female dancers, in terms of the level of its Sisyphean effort, the repetitiveness, the critical approach to the body, the need for precision and the pedantic nature of it,? says Brinner. ?These are things that define the way dancers perceive themselves.?

Brinner is coming out against the regimented and disciplined quality that is the fate of a female dancer, ?and that also exists within me. I have all kinds of disruptions when it comes to precision; it?s something that?s very important in my life, a kind of pedantry. I don?t know if someone else would say that I?m really well set up, but I have my own idea about how I would like things to proceed.?

Did you feel that Noa Dar?s artistic accompaniment helped you in your work?

?Noa approached me about Curtain Up over six months ago, and we starting having meetings in which we had very general, conceptual, fantastical conversations about what each of us wants and how the space would look, at a stage when you really have no idea what will it be like there. When I entered the studio, the meetings were shorter, and we went back to talking once there was something more solid. It was amazing for me to be part of a process that is not an ongoing audition where I have to give presentations... It was wonderful to be able to delve into something that is [basically] a search, and takes time. Noa gave us time and space; she asked questions, but did not demand answers or immediate solutions.

?Last year I submitted a project to Curtain Up, and the process was so depressing for me because I knew that I had to present something more final while the project was still in a very preliminary stage. I really wasn?t able to create in that setting. Auditions are something I don?t want to ever do again in my life. I was never accepted anywhere at an audition; apparently, I don?t know how to do one.?

roni.dori@haaretz.co.il

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