Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror created a dance piece called Two Room Apartment in 1987. It was a huge success for Israeli dance leading to tours and prizes.
Now Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor have recreated the piece, but using the original choreography rather like a theatre director might use a play script, injecting it with a lot of their own dance style and personality. There's one huge difference however: this intimate piece was created by a man and a woman, now it's being recreated by two men.
Sheinfeld worked in the Liat Dror Nir Ben Gal Dance Company in the 90s. He says,
In terms of Israeli dance, this work had been very significant. After this, the whole dance scene in Israel changed. This work was presented dozens of times, all over the world. It had a relatively long life span, and it triggered a lot of interest.
Laor says of their approach,
I want to add another perspective. I think there are many similarities between Nir and Liat's artistic statement in this duet and what Niv and I are seeking in our own creations. I think we share the same kind of vision and desire of what we want to give to our audience. We're trying to reduce, to be more minimalistic as a means to peel off layers that will expose the core. Not to show how tons of money can be poured onto the stage, not to present immortal gods on stage, but the other way around: we are mortal, what you are witnessing is temporary, and it is present only here and only now. We seek simplicity, and this duet was very simple and humble
to begin with.
As it's a piece that the original duo still perform they have been generous to allow the new boys space to play with the piece.
They trusted us; we are very thankful to them for that.
Two Room Apartment is about two people: when are they alone, when are they together: solitude versus togetherness. Laor and Sheinfeld were determined to find their own key to the apartment, and to try and rid themselves of Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror's very personal style, liberating themselves from the image of them performing the duet, and finding their own language inside the basic structure.
In the original version there was a seduction scene in which Liat walks over to Nir and starts undressing him in an erotic way, leaving him in his underwear and shoes before walking away. We, on the other hand, had a totally different approach to this scene. We sought emotional, non-sexual intimacy in that moment, so we re-directed the scene. I strip to complete nudity in front of Niv and then climb into his arms like a child seeking comfort and protection, and Niv carries me and moves slowly, as if he is putting me to sleep. This scene became such an intimate scene for us that we couldn't even leave the original soundtrack untouched; we needed to bring something that we will deeply relate to, something that is “our” music. So we decided to use Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
And being two men gives them a different physical connection:
Elements such as energetic output, nuances, balance, and tenderness all yield to a different set of expression and behavior when it comes to two men with high testosterone levels. The original work reflected on the issue of gender by looking into the eternal battle of the sexes; we, on the other hand, reflect on the issue of gender by looking into the relationship of two people of the same gender.
Quotes are from an interview by Deborah Friedes Galili
Two Room Apartment
by and with Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor
Based on the 1987 dance work by Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror
Music: Ori Vidislavski (original music), Elton John, Vains of Jenna
13, 14, 15, 16 October at the
Teatro Franco Parenti, via Pier Lombardo 14, Milan
Box Office: 02 59995206
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.