Vertigo kicks off 81st ADF today

Jun. 12, 2014 @ 08:16 AM

Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company kicks off the American Dance Festival’s 81st season today and Friday with the ADF premiere of “Vertigo 20.”

The company traveled a long way to get here – and not just in miles.
“Vertigo 20” celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012. Now, it’s into the third decade of keeping the company going with such critically acclaimed works as “Mana,” performed here two years ago at the company’s ADF debut.
“You have to do it from your heart. It must be in your blood and soul,” choreographer/co-artistic director Noa Wertheim said in a telephone interview from Israel’s Elah Valley.
Initially, when she and Adi Sha’al, her partner in life and dance, were asked what has contributed to the company’s longevity, both replied:
“I would say because of him,” she said.
“And, I would say because of her,” he said.
Sha’al is the company’s manager and also co-artistic director. As manager, he often spends the night on the computer contacting international presenters.
“It’s important to have the right person beside you,” Wertheim added.
It also works for practical reasons. “Like organizing this phone call. I could go to her and say, ‘Now we have the phone call so we can step away from the children for a while,’” Sha’al said.
The couple has three sons, ages 16, 12 and 9.            
They founded Vertigo in 1992. While “Vertigo 20” includes some motifs from the couple’s first duet as well as fragments from other work, it is not the retrospective Wertheim had set out to make. “It’s a new dance. It surprised me as well. You are building the dance and then it’s controlling you, Wertheim added. 
Of “Vertigo 20,”she said, “There’s an image of a puppet, an interest in art, the space between earth and heaven and, the decision issue: Do we choose our own way, our own fate or is it determined by another?”
More than seven years ago, Wertheim and her three sisters chose to do something that would drastically change their lives. After their mother died, they decided that they wanted to live in the same place. So, with their families, they moved to the Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hei in the rural Elah Valley – a world far away from urban life. There, they created the Vertigo Eco-Art Village as a place to sustain nature, ecology, social responsibility, art and family. They used mud to build homes and recycled/renewable materials to transform a 300-foot-long chicken house into a dance studio and 150-seat theater. 
The sisters’ spouses lent their expertise and training to the project. One husband is an agriculturist and ecologist, another is a builder. Sisters and spouses also run Vertigo programs. Rina Wertheim-Koren, a dancer in the company, worked as assistant choreographer for  “Vertigo 20” but will not perform in it because she has a 5-month-old baby, Noa Wertheim said. Rina’s husband, Nimrod Koren, an artist, is director of the village’s Artists’ Residency program. Other programs include the Vertigo International Dance Program held in Jerusalem and the Eco-Art Villaage.
In addition to taking dance classes, the international students also work in the village garden, Sha’al said. “It’s a new way of pioneering – living this life and being a model of this sustainable life,” Sha’al said.
Living in the Eco-Art Village has many benefits. With other family members and their children living there, Noa Wertheim said she never has to worry about her boys being well-cared for and having other children to play with while she’s on tour.
“It helps to keep a balance,” Sha’al said, of living in the village. “Touring is hard. Here, you can ride horses.”
As for making art in such a place, Noa Wertheim said, “Maybe nature does influence sometimes. The land is good – sometimes a bit dry. There are olive trees.”
But her inner life remains the biggest influence. “I create a lot from the inside,” she said. She does not separate life from art. “I try to bring art into my life and my life into my art,” she added.


WHAT:  Vertigo Dance Company performs “Vertigo 20.”

WHEN:  8 p.m. today and Friday.
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center.
TICKETS: 919-680-2787 or