Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dancing with Astarte

PERFORMING ARTS: The Canaanite spirit. Local choreographers and dancers Moran Yizhaky Abergel and Kim Taitelbaum unveil their latest work on the ancient Middle Eastern goddess Astarte (, Jerusalem Post).
The common conception of contemporary dance productions is that they are created in the studio. Long hours spent generating and revising movement phrases, perfecting each and every transition; nuance and gesture are a must for most dance artists. It is through these often-arduous sessions that the final product, what will go on stage, comes into focus. And while they certainly employed this tactic when developing the duet Astarte, choreographers and performers Moran Yizhaky Abergel and Kim Taitelbaum took many of the big leaps in their creative process over the breakfast table. The result of this omelet-driven process will premier this week at the Kelim Choreography Center in Bat Yam.


“The piece deals with lost gods, like Astarte, the god of feminine power and of a falling people,” says Abergel. “There is something very ancient about it, very Middle Eastern. We allowed ourselves to jump between dance styles throughout the work, to draw on a lot of different vocabularies and experiences as well as to touch on a lot of different concepts. The piece is timeless in a sense that it wants to go back in time and return to the present.”

Astarte, or Ashtoreth, was worshiped in Syria and Canaan in the first millennium BC. She represented power, femininity, fertility and sexuality.

“In this work, we go back to the mental place that is Canaan, which exists in every person that lives in the region that was once that land,” explains Taitelbaum. This notion, of Canaan-ism, affects the choreographers in their daily life as well as in the studio. “The local dance community is segregated from its neighbors. We are cut off from what’s around us and are constantly looking at Europe for influence. That alone creates a certain aesthetic here.”

“There is a very special energy and beauty of being here in this country. This piece is very much a reaction to everything that we have seen and how we think the dance medium should be. Dance has to affect a change in the cultural world.”

Sounds like an interesting production. Of course, the Deuteronomistic Historian is turning over in his grave (see 1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13). Just saying.