Searching for balance and peace

Scenes of suffering animals and happy endings make him cry. His partner, Oren, helps bring a smile to his face. His greatest fear is a breakdown in communication and his secret ambition is to give in to his temptations. His greatest temptation? «That’s my secret,» says Niv Sheinfeld, the emerging young award-winning Israeli dancer and choreographer who will be showing his work for the first time in Greece on Friday and Saturday at the 4th Athens International Dance Festival (running to July 14) taking place at the Technopolis arts complex in Gazi. The relationship between men and women, and man’s efforts to find balance and peace in a world that pushes us in the opposite direction are just some of the subjects that concern him, and his means of creating the atmosphere he wants on the stage can range from a light bulb to a Chopin waltz. Sharp, clean and synchronized movements are the signature of his choreographies. At Technopolis, Sheinfeld will stage the solo «Don Quixote» (which was created for the 1999 Israel Festival) and the duet «Covariance» (which was first presented in 2004 at the Curtain Up festival at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv). In a recent interview with Kathimerini, Sheinfeld gave us a taste of what Athenian audiences can expect of his forthcoming performances. Can you tell us a few words about the choreographies you will present in Athens and explain how the first, the solo, complements the other, the duet? A solo and a duet are very different in essence. In «Don Quixote» (the solo), the reaction to what happens on the stage is almost imperceptible. It is a man’s dialogue with himself, his imagination, his thoughts. It is his journey: his battle against the world to defend his beliefs. As a dancer, in this solo I try to create the reaction all by myself, to transport myself from one place to another. This is the opposite of what happens in a duet, where each of my moves brings a reaction from my partner. Both pieces bring the audience and the dancers to complete collapse, drawing on our sensitivities. «Covariance» especially, brings us to the relief that comes from dialogue, from a love story. What keeps a good love story going? A love story needs love. That’s all. A relationship requires a lot more, like desire, need and constant creativity to survive. A relationship is an endless search for sensitivity and balance between the couple. Who are the artists who have inspired you as a choreographer? I began dancing professionally with the Israeli choreographers Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal. I was in the deep end of the world of theater and dance when I worked with them. The work of Pina Bausch has also been an enormous source of inspiration. How do you assess the landscape of dance in Israel? The Israeli dance scene is quite well developed. We have a lot of dance groups and choreographers. The Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv is one of the biggest dance centers in the world. But subsidies for culture, and especially for dance, are very limited. Despite this, we have a vibrant dance scene, with numerous premieres and performances every month. How does the political situation in the Middle East affect you both as a person and as an artist? The political situation in the region is very complex. I try not to listen to the news too frequently. I can’t say that it affects my work directly, but it certainly exists within it. For example, the need for dialogue and peaceful coexistence is a dream of mine that is expressed in «Covariance.» I recently started working on a project to create dialogue groups for the performing arts. It seems very unnatural living in Israel and not being able to know what is going on in neighboring countries. I think that art in general, and dance in particular, can be a bridge for dialogue. A successful debut and a promising future Niv Sheinfeld, one of Israel’s most promising emerging choreographers, began dancing professionally in 1991 with the Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal company, performing both at home and abroad. He began creating his own choreographies in 1997 with his debut piece «Borderline,» which earned him an award in the Shades of Dance competition. He has also created choreographies for important ensembles, such as «Not Yet» and «Wake Up and Start Dreaming» for the Batsheva Ensemble, «Sphitz» for the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and «Think Pink» and «Blue Sugar» for the Muza Dance Company, which have been presented in various countries in Europe. For information on where to purchase tickets for his performance in Athens, see the What’s On column (right).