Idan Sharabi will be joined by three other dancers when he comes to Vancouver for Chutzpah! (photo by Tami Weiss)
From running around barefoot as a child to dancing for audiences around the world, Idan Sharabi has never stopped moving. “Dancing is the only action I have been doing all my life,” he told the Independent – and we in Vancouver can see him in action at Chutzpah! early next month.
The festival runs Feb. 22 to March 9, and Idan Sharabi & Dancers opens for eight-member Italian contemporary dance company ImPerfect Dancers in performances on March 6, 8 and 9. While based in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Idan Sharabi & Dancers are an international group: accompanying Sharabi to Vancouver are Ema Yuasa (Japanese), Rachel Patrice Fallon (American) and Dor Mamalia (Israeli). Sharabi himself has studied in Tel Aviv (Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts) and New York (Juilliard School), performed with Nederlands Dans Theatre (NDT) in The Hague and Batsheva Dance Company in Israel, and had his work shown in – among other places – Israel, Switzerland, the United States, Japan, Italy and Canada (Montreal and Toronto).
“I have loved every person I have met from Canada. I have had a great connection with them immediately. There is something I like about Canadians!”
The Chutzpah! show will bring Sharabi to Vancouver for the first time. “I have been many times to Montreal but never anywhere else in Canada,” he said. However, “I have loved every person I have met from Canada. I have had a great connection with them immediately. There is something I like about Canadians!”
Idan Sharabi & Dancers will be coming to Vancouver from a residency in Holland. “Right after, we go to Rome to perform in the Food for Thoughts event [hosted] by the European Dance Alliance of Valentina Marini and, after, to teach repertoire workshops and master classes at the Contemporary Dance School Hamburg, in Germany,” said Sharabi, who has known and collaborated with each Mamalia, Yuasa and Patrice Fallon for some years now.
“Dor and I have worked together for the past 2.5 years,” Sharabi told the Independent. “We met back when I created for him and others in The Project of the Israeli Opera House, in 2011. Since then, we’ve been good friends and inspiring each other to create.
“Ema had danced with me in NDT and we created a lot together there: both Adar and K’zat (two pieces of our repertoire were made back then with her). She joined the group in 2010, when we had just started in Israel with our first show, when we weren’t yet settled at all. It was the show Home, which I had created for five dancers and, only two years later, I was able to start Idan Sharabi & Dancers as a traveling and performing group. It took those years, but Ema stuck with me through it, even though she lived in Holland – it was done by e-mails, phone, Skype. We made it happen, and she joined us again, since August 2013, in the Copenhagen Summer Dance Festival of the Danish Dance Theatre, who invited us to perform Adar there.”
Last but not least, Patrice Fallon and Sharabi met each other in 2011 at the Springboard Danse Montreal program. He has worked with her since then. “I was invited by Yuri Zhukov recently to create for his company ZDT [Zhukov Dance Theatre] in San Francisco, Calif., and I insisted on him auditioning her for the company,” explained Sharabi. “She got it and came to do my project there – we created together Spider on a Mirror. Everyone was happy with the decision to bring her, as she is definitely a great and very physical, groovy dancer with an open mind and heart, and then I realized she should definitely join us every time, whenever it’s possible.” The Chutzpah! show will be the first time that Patrice Fallon joins the full group of Idan Sharabi & Dancers in performance – she will also be with them during their residency in Holland prior to their coming here.
Born in Rishon Le Zion, Sharabi moved with his family to Mazkeret Batya when he was four years old. “It was like a tiny town,” he said of where he grew up. “Back then, everybody used to know each other and you got really close to your neighbors. The whole town was like a big neighborhood. Now, there is a road to it but when I was a child, there was no road yet for cars to drive on, and we used to run there barefoot, there was just sand. Actually, I don’t remember many cars … inside the village. We could basically use the ‘road’ (the sand) to lie down on, we would play there.”
Sharabi said he grew up in a traditional Jewish home. The youngest of three children, he went to synagogue with his father and brother every Friday night, and there was always Shabbat dinner, at least until he was in his mid-teens. “No one from my family works formally in the arts,” he said, “but they are all very creative, and especially my mother, who writes stories and poetry – but never to be published.”
Asked when he first discovered dance, Sharabi shared, “I always remember dancing and moving around as a kid. In general, as a kid, I was weird, according to the stories and my overall feeling. My mom says I was telling her things like there is movement inside plants, that the flower I was holding in my hand is not only what we see. She also says my father tells her that he can never understand me and he thinks my mom and I understand each other because we are both ‘crazy.’
“So, movement, and even exploration, was always there. I first started dancing in a class when I was about 12 years old.”
Sharabi also shared the recollection of a vacation at a hotel where his family stayed every summer. He participated every night in a dance activity for kids. “I think it was called Disco-Kid or something,” he said. “Apparently, according to the stories, I stayed there every day after the other kids left and kept moving around with one of the entertainment team of the hotel, and made myself – and her – memorize movements. By the end of the week, I had a little dance I had choreographed for us! Then, she brought my parents to watch me when I was dancing.”
“I don’t know how to describe how dancing makes me feel, but I can say for sure that dancing is the only action I have been doing all my life.”
A year later, he said, he was studying dance. “I don’t know how to describe how dancing makes me feel, but I can say for sure that dancing is the only action I have been doing all my life.”
One of Sharabi’s recent creations – with two other members of the group – is Nishbar, which means both broken and breaking, and the work has “a lot to do with feeling broken … breaking down or breaking up,” explained Sharabi. He said, “Everything we create in the group is personal on a certain level and people are touched in the creation process. I feel the moment when there is no inspiration for myself or the dancer, it stops there.”
“I realized how we always have our first stage in the process, which is playing a lot of games in the studio, getting to know the dancers, their personalities, their insecurities, the natural movement approach, their ideas of things, their creativity or the lack of it. Mainly, you see the reasons for one to dance almost right there on the spot.”
Sharabi and Mamalia recently were inspired to choreograph a work for Israel Ballet, at the ballet company’s invitation to Sharabi. “It was a very interesting process,” he said. “I realized how we always have our first stage in the process, which is playing a lot of games in the studio, getting to know the dancers, their personalities, their insecurities, the natural movement approach, their ideas of things, their creativity or the lack of it. Mainly, you see the reasons for one to dance almost right there on the spot…. This is something I always start with these days. In my group, I can sometimes just start with a lot of improvising with the dancers, or just watching them improvise and [encouraging] them towards different directions, giving them more and more tools to develop, things that I think of at the moment, leaving the freedom for them to develop other things…. I love this kind of process because I always learn so much from it.”
At the Chutzpah! Festival, Idan Sharabi & Dancers will be presenting a première formed from a couple of different parts of their repertoire. Called Makom, Sharabi explained, “Dor is a dear friend and so I talk to him a lot. I realized at a certain point that I simply love talking to him, I love how witty, funny, easygoing and open and sensitive he can be. I decided to start recording our talks. It became small interviews I would make with him before rehearsing. I asked him stuff in English instead of Hebrew because I started thinking [I would like] to use the material. He didn’t think we would do such a thing and it definitely surprised him to hear himself on the soundtrack. Then we went through a whole process of discovering his voice and the sound it creates in space and time. The textures of his voice and the meanings of what he had said were almost always connected.”
About the future, Sharabi said, “We might travel to Malta this summer. I go a lot to Europe to teach and create for companies as a freelance choreographer and this has created interest recently from a lot of companies to join my company with theirs, and so we do a lot of collaborations.
“We are booked to perform Nishbar and more works from our repertoire in Jerusalem, in Beit Mazye Theatre, in May. After, [we’ll be] in Herzliya with another show with the orchestra there. Poliphony invited my group for this collaboration. Artistic director and conductor Gil Shohat had met me recently and expressed his interest in my work to live music. I loved the idea and we are going to work on that as soon as we step in Israel again.”
ImPerfect Dancers and Idan Sharabi & Dancers are at the Rothstein Theatre on March 6, 8 p.m.; March 8, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (evening includes a talkback); and March 9, 4 p.m. Note: There is partial nudity. Tickets ($20-$28, plus taxes and service charge) are available at chutzpahfestival.com, as is the full festival schedule.