Dana Ruttenberg on Curtain 3: Stav Marin and Merav Dagan, and Nadar Rosano
באמצעותן…כי יש למחול איזו יכולת רורשאכית להתיישב לך על עצבים שממילא חשופים.
A visit. An attempt to trap the thoughts that ran through my mind as I watched or came up after- not necessarily about the works rather through them… Because dance has this Rorschachian power to touch already-exposed nerves.
“Girl-core” or “Shhhhhhh”
Faced with Stav and Merav’s mermaids, my thoughts took a redeye to the U.S. elections, and on the way to how America (which is only far from us geographically) couldn’t bring itself to take the next step in the game and choose a woman as president. So much so that men and women together elected a pumpkin-scarecrow. Anything but a woman.
I thought about the way in which, throughout the entire journey, they talked about Hillary’s clothes, her appearance, her fragility, her voice. Yes, the female voice. The one that causes head Rabbis to leave ceremonies. That by Jewish law is dangerous to every man. That is not allowed to be heard. And if by chance it is heard then please let it not be hysterical, not excited, not screeching. And if it is excited, then in bed, please dear, get excited in bed.
Stav and Merav walk the erotic-vibrating line. They jump in and out of the dumps into which their female voices toss them. Because they are women. And what are women if not incomprehensible creatures, mostly to themselves. Their clear self-expression- to the outside world becomes over-excited stuttering that can only be answered with “calm down, sweetheart.” Or in Merav’s words “Shhhhhhh”. Their honesty is heart breaking because a thin layer of eroticism covers everything they are trying to do. And they are trying. I see their actions progressing and changing and I want to think that I am immune to danced vibration and sighs, but there they are and they won’t be ignored. And I am angry for myself that I/we don’t have the freedom to shake and sigh and scream for no good reason. Without our bra and panties peeking out from under/over everything.
I tried to think about other women-doing-voice-in-dance that don’t elicit an erotic spirit and I thought of Noa Zuk and her line of creations in which she marries vocalization to movement. That’s the alternative, I thought to myself, a machine. Like a washing machine or a dishwasher, or a motor. Mechanics instead of sex.
Which takes me back for a moment to Hillary (here in the picture doing an homage to Come Closer). The hippie, free, brunette spent years studying in order to strangle the sighs out and characterize her voice. Not without struggle. Slowly, slowly, the big glasses came off, the hair was cut shorter and shorter and lightened, the name changed to fit her husband’s and the mannish suits arrived. And it wasn’t enough.
In her concession speech, in which she spoke to young women watching her, her hoarse voice trembled and she let it tremble. And I trembled too, because I could imagine in the moment, had she won, the day afterwards she would have pressed a button and gone back to “herself”.
Stav and Merav move in a marked habitat. Between leaves, which unlike them, will never fade, and a rock, which will be there long after they are gone. They, unlike these elements, are temporary. Their time, not just on stage, is measured. In their “concession speech”, they straighten their backs- the parts not yet covered by moss- and send to us an echo of two voices that sound the same yet different. Female voice.
Behind the Mountain
Twice I thought of Pina Bausch’s Café Muller, not by chance, while watching. The first time was when a cover of Dido’s Lament from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, echoed out in a cracked male voice. And the second, when Zuki placed a bundle of branches, over and over, in Stav’s hands just so that she could drop them and the exercise could be repeated. But the branches aren’t a woman and their fall is not a human fall. They don’t change shape; they are still tightly bound with rope. I thought of Dalia Ravikovitch and of the cracking stones of her Pride:
Even rocks crack, I tell you, and not because of age. For years they lie on their backs in the heat and the cold, so many years, it almost seems peaceful. They don’t move, so the cracks stay hidden. A kind of pride. Years pass over them, waiting. Whoever is going to shatter them.
Because as in Café Muller, perhaps the space signifies Nadar or his characters’ personal memories. For Bausch it was her parents’ café. Here it is a type of playground. Jungle gyms that we remember as huge in comparison to our small forms, but a visit exposes them, to our dismay, as hills not mountains.
Wood as material shows up in two forms. The “raw” form (which is designed) and the functional, processed form. The ladders that will never be climbed up. As with cribs or gates, they don’t really block anything. A light touch from one of the characters moves them to and from their place.
“Remember me, but forget my fate” is the cry of near death. And somehow, in Nadar’s space, there is no cry. There is an unclear landscape that will not release its residents. There is a gallop that doesn’t leave its place.
Israeli born dancer and choreographer, graduate of The Bat-Dor School of Dance and the Thelma Yelin High-school for Performing Arts. She holds a B.A. in Dance from Columbia University and an MFA in Dance from the Hollins University/American Dance Festival program. As artistic director of her NY based dance troupe between 2000-2003, The Red Hill Project, she has created works that showcased at various venues across the US and Canada. Since her return to Israel in 2003, she has been teaching, giving workshops and choreographing for the Batsheva Dance Ensemble, OtherDance Festival, IntimaDance Festival, International Exposure, Curtain Up Festival and Dance Arena festival, to name a few. In 2006, She was chosen to take part in the inaugural year of the Sugar Salon Residency in New York, where she created alongside Bessie Award Winner Susan Marshall. Ruttenberg seeks to create works that engage all the senses, not excluding the sense of humor, and to expand the existing audiences for dance. To that aim, she collaborates with artists from different fields (theater, film, music and visual art), and examines new angles for the presentation and experience of dance. Her work NABA 2.0 currently in residence at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art allows audiences, through the use of museum Audio Guides to choose the soundtrack for the work themselves. Please Do Not Feed the Dancers is performed in an empty pool with the viewers watching from above, and the gender-flexible POLY is presented with alternating female/male casts performing the same roles. In 2014, she succeeded in making 2000 audience members move at once at the Tel Aviv Pecha Kucha. Ruttenberg continues to produce and present her own work in Israel and abroad. Her Dance-Films Private I’s(Director: Oren Shkedy) has screened at international film festivals in Chille, Colombia, Turkey, Germany, Hong Kong (Outstanding film Award at Jumping Frames), USA (Audience Choice Award at Dance Camera West and first prize at the Tallahassee International Competition), Portugal, Bulgaria and Mexico. ScreensArt, a series of dance art works for the screen, premiered at Fresh Paint in Tel Aviv and exhibited at the Miami Art Week 2012 and in Art Brussels in 2015. Her most recent Dance Film Glove Story is now making its international rounds and has screened in Finland, Switzerland, Spain, Romania, Germany, Austria, USA and Israel. Dana continues to create choreography for various Theater and TV productions throughout Israel, teach and perform abroad (Senegal, USA, Hungary, Denmark, South Africa, Italy and Russia to name a few). She was on faculty at the Tel Aviv School of the Arts Dance Department 2005-2015, and is currently on faculty at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Ruttenberg was chosen as one of “The Future Generation” women by The Marker W Magazine. She is the winner of the 2013 Minister of Culture Award. She was awarded the distinguished 2012 Rosenblum Award for Promising Young Artist by the municipality of Tel Aviv. In Spring 2013, she was a visiting artist at Florida University for as part of Schusterman Foundation’s Visiting Artist Program. More about Dana and her work at: www.drdg.co.il and www.screensart.com