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‘Summer Snow’ to heat up Tel Aviv dance and culture scene

CM 29/04/2021

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 When we look around our houses, we are surrounded by objects. Some of them are functional, some are decorative and some serve no outwardly obvious purpose yet they comprise the internal view that we spend our lives looking at. Our things often say so much about us as people. 

In Ella Rothschild’s piece Summer Snow, made for the Batsheva Dance Company, a character is defined, detailed and described by a smattering of seemingly random objects. One by one they are a vase, a lamp, tissues, a small pig made of papier mâché, a stool, a mirror and a bouquet of fake flowers. Together, they present a sense of the inner life of a complex person who is in the midst of a swell of emotion.
“In the beginning, we tried out lots of objects,” says Rothschild over the phone from her apartment in Yad Eliahu. It is the evening following a busy day of rehearsals leading up to the premiere of Summer Snow, her first creation for the company. 
Rothschild, 36, is one of the most in-demand artists in Israel today. She began her career dancing in the Batsheva Ensemble followed by a long tenure with Inbal Pinto and the Avshalom Pollack Dance Company. In 2006, she began creating her own work while continuing to perform and collaborate with artists in Israel and abroad. Her choreographies include Acord, 12 Postdated Checks and IMO the Mouth is Redundant. For the past several years, Rothschild has split her time between Israel and various residencies and commissions abroad.
This is the first time she has held a lease in Tel Aviv for quite a while, a happy rooting down made possible by the COVID pandemic. In fact, Rothschild was meant to spend most of this year abroad, either performing in a work by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite or creating work for companies around the globe. Instead, she has had some time to stay in one place. Perhaps the selection of objects for Summer Snow mirrors Rothschild’s own nesting period.
“At some point we had candlesticks, a tablecloth, a bell…. We wanted objects that did not necessarily have a function but that have a meaning. We took out some and put others in. We bought two teapots, one ceramic, one metal and debated between them. Each one gave a different feeling. Each object is there for a reason, each one has emotional value for the characters,” she explains.
THE OBJECTS are one part of a very complex production, which includes puppeteering, an original score, a newly built set, designer costumes and as many collaborators as stage elements. Gadi Tzachor crafted a beautifully minimalist set for the work, longtime collaborator of Rothschild’s Gershon Waiserfirer made an original musical score, Goni Paz shared her expertise of puppeteering with the cast, and Inbal Ben Zaken custom-fit costumes for each dancer. All of this supports the journey into the subconscious of one character played by Ben Green.

“It wasn’t that I knew that he was the narrator. I started with many characters, all bearing their own weight in the piece. But, at the beginning of the process you have so many ideas and eventually they get drawn into one idea. Ben has very high sensitivity and honesty. I can say that for lots of the Batsheva dancers, not only for him. But it happened along the way that he became the person through which we see the piece.”
The sense in the piece is one of loss, mourning, missing out and guilt, explains Rothschild. 
“Even when the dancers are in the big dancing parts, they don’t reach their maximum physicality or exertion. They are always missing out on something.”
These feelings, unusual to find as the basis for a major company piece, will speak to many audience member’s hearts after a trying year. 
“I feel that aloneness is something I’m constantly dealing with in my works. It travels through my creations. You can have people that you love and that love you, but in the end you are processing what you go through alone. Guilt is a part of living. We are constantly thinking about what we didn’t do, what we haven’t done. There are these constant questions that occupy my mind. Those were part of the line of this piece.”
Rothschild admits that this process was overwhelming. Beyond the stage creation, the process came to include two other elements: a digital platform titled On the Edge of Nowhere, and a book containing illustrations made by Rothschild throughout her time working with the company.
The creation was made as a co-production with the Mart International Festival of Culture, which presents contemporary Russian artists to international audiences. The festival will take place in Tel Aviv in June, with Summer Snow a featured event.
Summer Snow will be performed at the Suzanne Dellal Center on May 4-6, 28-31, June 1, 10-12, 17-19. The Mart International Festival of Culture will take place from June 20-30 around Tel Aviv. For more information, visit batsheva.co.il.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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