Moving Beyond the Comfort Zone: Trans.parent

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Trans.parent/Photo: Omri Barel

It was with some trepidation and much anticipation that I moved out of my comfort zone to see Trans.parent at Artness in Kibbutz Ein Shemer. My more or less 5K ‘I can walk it if I have to zone’ that extends from the Old City of Jaffa to Tel Aviv University, with the occasional eastward jaunt to Jerusalem is admittedly rather narrow both in the geographic and cultural sense. The hour long trip to Ein Shemer requires a bit of finagling for the non-driver, yet once arranged, provides ample time for reflection: how often are our decisions, cultural and otherwise, determined by convenience?

It’s a question as relevant for the creators of Trans.parent, as well as the audience, all the more pointed a question perhaps for the reviewer. Billed as a “long distance dance” Trans.parent is jointly created by a team that includes choreographers Maya Levy, Anando Mars, Iris Marko and designer Barak Aviam Ish-Shalom; performer/creators Ann Valery Hubler, Amir Dolitsky, Kene Ote, Yair Goren, Tamar Gross, Stav Marin, Michal Gil, Aharon Manor, and Hadar Shinan; and DJs Uri Benklahter and Yaniv Zaddik. Eliminating the divisions between onstage and off, the entire team is present throughout the performance, which begins roughly at 20:30 and ends….whenever.

Maya Levy is a brilliant choreographer with the kind of creativity and integrity that easily drew me out into the country at night, all the more so because she is clearly moving out of her comfort zone with this work. Arriving at Ein Shemer, I literally did not know what to expect from a dance piece described as a collaborative work developed through 24 hour rehearsals, exploring the axis of time in relation to art and the artist. A six to eight hour marathon dance performance in a kibbutz studio with the audience sitting in neat rows? Would the dancers be wearily dragging their feet by the end of this ordeal, while the audience awkwardly slumbers on plastic chairs?

Not at all. Trans.parent is unlike any other performance I’ve seen in recent memory, defying any convenient categorization. Much of its force lies in the unexpected and unknown, making it a challenge to describe for the writer who wishes to avoid spoilers. Elements of performance, dance, improv and theatre combine with elements of the kind of happening that one might tend to associate with New York in the 70s; woven together to create a colorful, intricately textured fabric.

There are beautiful dance sequences in this work – Tamar Gross, Kene Ote, and Aharon Manor really stood out for me, yet I am not certain that I would describe Trans.parent as a dance. Trans.parent is a performance work that creates an experience and an environment – one that is tightly crafted, playful, intensely aesthetic, moving and thought-provoking. The excellently designed structure allows for different possibilities and choices to exist within the framework, creating a feeling of spontaneity, while at the same time remaining within the context of the piece. One experiences a journey that is adventurous and open to possibility, but does not feel random, and deftly avoids the self-indulgent vacuity that sometimes accompanies experimental works.

Trans.parent takes risks, and invites the audience to take risks as well. While one may refrain from participating at every juncture in the piece, choosing not to participate creates its own impact; either as participant or observer, one is implicated in this work. The intimate atmosphere and long hours induce the kind of introspection, confessional mood and ecstatic moments of late night conversations with friends, but with strangers. The work glimmers with reflections on relationships: the relationships we have with friends and family, with the world, with our own thoughts, feelings and dreams.

A moving meditation on art and creation, Trans.parent is visually exhilarating. The costumes and set designs (where set is taken in its broadest sense) are outrageously vivid and joyful, with exquisite detail. Watching the performance, I was transformed into an instant fashion groupie, barely restraining myself from shouting out: “ברק תעשה לי בגד!!!” (Hebrew: ‘Barak make me an outfit’ – those familiar with Israeli groupies will, one hopes, catch the allusion).

It’s a performance, a party, a mind-altering swirl of truth and illusion.

Performers: Ann Valery Hubler, Amir Dolitsky, Kana Ote, Yair Goren, Tamar Gross, Stav Marin, Michal Gil, Aharon Manor, Hadar Shinan, DJ Uri Benklahter, DJ Yaniv Zaddik, Maya Levy, Anando Mars, Iris Marko, Barak Aviam Ish-Shalom.

The next performance of Trans.Parent will take place on January 26, 2012. Performances will begin at 20:30 and end – your guess is as good as mine (probably around 3am). Artness, Kibbutz Ein-Shemer. Tickets are 100 NIS and must be ordered in advance, call: 077-5040082. Warm clothing recommended!

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