“No one expects dancers to speak out,” said Yossi Berg, “and we do. We’re not afraid to put ourselves out there.” Choreographers Berg and Oded Graf have been collaborating since 2005, creating a body of work charged with high voltage symbolism and physicality, visceral, visual, intellectual, sensual and sheer fun. Their most recent work, Black Fairytale, will hold its Israeli premiere at the Summerdance festival at Suzanne Dellal on August 9, 2012. Berg and Graf shared their thoughts on the new work in an interview with Midnight East.
Black Fairytale explores “the darkest places, the unconscious levels of our soul, the places that are less known and understood, the more impulsive and primal,” said Oded Graf, “each of us has a dark side, we are trying to reach that place in this work. We were inspired by fairytales,” he added, “but had no intention of working in a literal mode creating a remake of Little Red Riding Hood.”
In this respect, Black Fairytale is closely connected to Berg and Graf’s previous works, relating to and commenting on contemporary reality through an imaginative, symbolic, and often surreal world created onstage. While each piece creates its own world, there is continuity in their process and approach. “We continue our tradition of being in the work as performers and working with artists from different fields and countries,” said Yossi, “the work has a very international feel that is an integral part of the way we work and that we find intriguing. Here too, we are dealing with difference, as closely related to culture – where you come from, whether are a man or woman, what is your perspective on social issues – all these are expressed within the work in different ways.”
“We make some explicit statements in Black Fairytale about life and society,” he added, “how we are developing as a culture, where we’re headed, what are our opinions, our dreams, and the extent to which our dreams make sense in the context of reality. We want to say something in this work that goes beyond the choreography and staging. We want to make a statement about what is happening in Israel, and also in relation to other parts of the world, the ways in which what we feel here is similar to what people feel there.”
Both choreographers felt that their ability to take their ideas farther was enhanced through working with many of the same artists who participated in their most recent work Animal Lost. Markus Pesonen composed original music for both works, and Mona Moller Schmid designed the costumes. Of the cast members, three have continued with Berg & Graf – Siri Wolthoorn, Soren Linding Urup, and Pierre Enaux; while two – Robert Logrell and Anne Nyboe are new.
Some of the research involved looking into the fairy tale itself, reading fairy tales and reading about their structure and origins. Oded described the work as having, “associations, characters, feelings, situations and images from the world of fairy tale,” adding, “we were very interested in working with the terms good and evil, and they ways in which people understand these terms.”
“In fairy tales the situation can instantly shift from something that is almost utopian – then everything goes wrong and turns into a nightmare,” said Oded, “It’s something that fascinates me, in the reality of our lives, in my own personal reality. I relate it to my life here, life in Tel Aviv can be so utopian, I have everything I need in abundance and then I turn on the news and feel that I am immersed in a nightmare…there is something very cyclical about it, utopia doesn’t last long.”
The term “fairy tale” is often associated with bright colors and images of bliss, yet if one ventures beyond mass culture images to research the genre, the fairy tale emerges as a darker and far more intriguing entity. Yossi related that for many fairy tales “The version we know has been ‘prettified,’ the truth behind the fairytale, what really happens, is a disaster that no one wants to tell.”
When I asked the choreographers whether Black Fairytale has a “real-life ending” or a “happy end,” they responded: “You’ll have to come and see.”
Come and see Black Fairytale on August 9 & 10 at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv. Tickets may be ordered online, or call: 03-5105656.
Black Fairytale Choreography: Oded Graf & Yossi Berg
Creating Performers: Siri Wolthoorn, Soren Linding Urup, Pierre Enaux, Robert Logrell, Anne Nyboe, Oded Graf and Yossi Berg
Dramaturgy: Hillel Kogan Artistic Consultant: Itai Shtern & Julia Giertz Costumes: Mona Moller Schmid
Lighting Design: Antonio Rodriques-Andersen
Music: Markus Pesonen, Angelo Badalamenti, Gerard Grisey, Danny Elfman, PJ Harvey, Maurice Ravel
Co-production: Yossi Berg & Oded Graf; Dansehallerne & Bora Bora Theaters in Denmark. With the support of the Danish Arts Council, Copenhagen Performing Arts Committee, the Wilhelm Hansen Foundation, the Augustinus Foundation,Israeli Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts.