Gat, Cedar Lake Ballet combine talents
Modern dance titles sometimes come across as mysterious, but rarely end in a question mark. So, naturally, the title of Emanuel Gat’s new dance, “Ida?” prompted some questions. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs the world premiere of this work on Saturday and Sunday at Durham Performing Arts Center during the fourth week of the American Dance Festival’s 81st season.
Now, for those questions. Does the title refer to Cedar Lake dancer Ida Saki, 22, from Dallas, Texas, who joined the company two years ago? And, did she provide an inspiration for the dance?
Yes and no, Gat explained in a recent interview.
The title comes from the playback created from recordings of dancers’ vocal cues to each other during rehearsals, Gat said in an email. “At one point in the playback, Ida’s name is being called repeatedly. I liked the sound of it and the specific intonation and musicality of that moment. And, so that became the title.”
While dancers played an integral role, they did not provide inspiration per se. “The entire group is at the heart of this piece – not in the sense of inspiration but more as creators of this specific event,” Gat said.
Founded in 2003, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has made a name for itself because of its dancers and a diverse repertoire created mainly through collaborations with top international choreographers. “Ida?” marks the first time Gat has made a dance on the company and the experience presented challenges for both dancers and the Israeli-born choreographer.
“It was definitely a new experience working with Emanuel Gat on his creation,” Ida Saki said in an email. “He has a process that was very unique to myself and the other dancers. Cedar Lake is full of incredibly talented dancers, but we were all asked to put our focus on physicality and technique to the side and fully invest with others in the space. The challenge of the piece comes from asking us to compromise the personal for the unity of the group,” Saki said.
Gat’s process is different from other choreographers the company has worked with, Cedar Lake artistic director Alexandra Damiani confirmed in a telephone interview from New York, where the company is based. “It’s not about the steps anymore. It’s about relationships, connections. … He gives a lot of freedom but at the same time he guides. He has a really strong idea of where he wants to go … [but] Emanuel is very open to the beauty and magic of the moment,” she added.
The choreographer also encouraged dancers to be authentically present in the work. “They were being present in a much deeper way than they have ever experienced,” Damiani said. “I’m still fascinated by his process and by his work.”
From Gat’s point-of-view, “It was a fun process. It was challenging in the sense that the group was not used to working in this manner, but rewarding in view of how they accepted the challenge and what they made with it,” he said.
This is the fourth time Gat’s work has been performed at ADF. His company, Emanuel Gat Dance, made its ADF debut in 2005 with his duet “Winter Voyage” and his “Rite of Spring” performed with Latin salsa moves to Stravinsky’s percussive score.
Once based in Tel Aviv, he and his company relocated to Istres, France, seven years ago. Some 44,000 people live in this old, maritime town on the Berre Lagoon in southern France.
The intensity of life in Israel in general, and in Tel Aviv, in particular, had prompted the move. “It’s intense – like living inside a washing machine on spin mode,” he said of Tel Aviv. “Not just the security thing. It’s a general vibe. It has some good sides to it, but in the long run, can get exhausting,” he said.
“I would say that living in France gave me the luxury of being able to relax from a more survival kind of state of mind. It allowed me to look more deeply into the work I’m doing, to be freer in how I develop it,” he added.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: The American Dance Festival presents Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in the world premiere of Emauel Gat’s “Ida?”; Hofesh Shecter’s “Violet Kid”; and Crystal Pite’s “Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue.”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center.
TICKETS: 919-680-2787 or www.americandancefestival.org