A Critic's Notebook: Israeli performers Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor build their Two Room Apartment" at the Goat Farm"
Israeli dance duo to bring their revival of an iconic work to Atlanta
- Gadi Dagon
- ROOM WITH A VIEW: Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor will perform "Two Room Apartment" at Atlanta's Goat Farm Arts Center from November 1-3.
"Revival" isn't a word one typically associates with contemporary dance. But Israeli performers Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor have recreated the seminal 1987 work "Two Room Apartment," which helped put Israeli dance on the map. The pair meticulously studied the original piece, but also infused the work with their own style and perspective (The original duet was created and performed by male and female couple Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror, while collaborators and couple Sheinfeld and Laor have reworked it as a dance for two men).
The show received strong critical reviews in Israel and is now making an international tour with stops including the Centre National de la Danse in Paris, the Teatro Franco Parenti in Milan, and, luckily for us, Atlanta's Goat Farm Arts Center. Sheinfeld and Laor will perform "Two Room Apartment" from November 1-3 to help open the second season of Tanz Farm, Atlanta's new contemporary dance performance series. I chatted with the duo via email to ask them about "Two Room Apartment," what Atlanta audiences can expect from them, and what they might be expecting to find during their first visit to Atlanta.
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Can you tell us a little bit about the work you'll be bringing to Atlanta? What was the original inspiration for creating it? What can audiences expect to see?
"Two Room Apartment" is an intimate duet that reflects on the relationship of two men who are partners in life and also artistic collaborators. Both personal and political, the work examines the notion of boundaries in various contexts: physical borders such as between territories or between two rooms, but also non-physical borders, such as the one between life and performance, or the one between the public and the personal, and also the boundaries that the individual sets for himself. The work uses a simple dance language and a minimalist aesthetic, and explores the notion of life as a framework in which a precise, almost compulsive repetition of customs and behaviors takes place. The work suggests a new and contemporary reading to the original performance created by Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal that premiered in 1987 in Tel-Aviv. It is considered a milestone in the development of independent Israeli choreography. We took their work as basis for our duet, and we changed it so it would fit our own artistic point of view.
What interests you about bringing your work to Atlanta?
We read and heard that the contemporary scene in Atlanta is impressively expanding and we are thrilled to be able to present our work to Atlanta audiences. For us the most interesting aspect of our work is the engagement with the people of Atlanta - to see the public's reaction to the show and the ideas it conveys, to learn a little about life in Atlanta, to meet and learn about local artists. This is always very inspiring for us.
Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds? How did you first come to dance and performance? How did the two of you become collaborators?
We became partners in 2002 and have been creating together since 2004. Niv had started dancing some 23 years ago, and since 1997 he's been creating dance works for numerous companies including Bat Sheva ensemble, Kibbutz Dance Company and many others. Oren comes from a theater background, and graduated at the Faculty of the Arts at Tel-Aviv university. Our creations today are a fusion of elements taken from both contemporary dance, performance art and theater. It's difficult for us to file our work under any one category, and we take liberty to question acceptable stage conventions. "Two Room Apartment" questions the conventional relationship between stage and life, and also between performers and audience. We assume we became collaborators because we had a desire to create together. It's a powerful engine, and it fuels our relationship in many ways.
- Gadi Dagon
Why do you think dance has become such a prominent art form in Israel?
What we can say is that generally speaking Israelis are very passionate people and very straight forward. Cutting through the issues. This is something that comes out of the performers on stage too, in their bodies. This is quite impressive many times. It creates a wave of energy striking you from the action on stage. And we believe this is why we (people) go to the theater in the first place - we want to take part in something that will shake us, tilt us, and touch our very core.
Is there anything outside of work you'll be interested in seeing or doing in Atlanta?
We've never yet been to Atlanta, and we'd love to discover as much of the city and its people as we can. To experience its vibe, to feel its beat. Cafes, restaurants, clubs, public spaces - it's all there. And we plan to get a taste of it.
Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor perform "Two Room Apartment" at the Goat Farm Arts Center, 1200 Foster Street, in Atlanta on Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, November 3, at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets visit the event's website.