BY SUSAN BROILI
RALEIGH – On Monday, July 16, 2018, the NC Museum of Art was closed to regular visitors but not to people who purchased tickets to see the American Dance Festival debut of Israel’s Dana Ruttenberg Dance Group performing “Naba 2.0” in the museum’s West Building.
The troupe, based in Tel Aviv, gave a total of eight performances from Saturday, July 14, through Tuesday, July 17.
The 2 p.m. Tuesday performance offered an experience that was interactive, innovative and immensely funny with some impressive dancing by Tal Adler Arieli, Carmel Ben-Asher, Gilad Jerusalmy and Noa Shiloh in the roles of museum guides.
The interactive factor turned out to be pre-programed audio guides (like those actually used by museums). Dance attendees were instructed how to first choose between hearing music or narration then punch the corresponding number, then the green button – and, voila! – we had our soundtrack for individual sections. The choice options were identified on large, white signs dancers held up.
For instance, when I chose “Carmel”, I heard what sounded like biographical information about one of the dancers: Carmel Ben-Asher, born in 1994. She had had problems with her left leg but still joined the Israeli swimming team and then took up horse-back riding until she fell off a horse, according to the narrator. “Her last resort was dance,” he added.
When he said the part about her fall from a horse, all four dancers fell on their butts. Yes, there was plenty of dancing to see as we listened to the soundtracks.
As I listened to “Peru’s” romantic guitar music and woman’s singing in Spanish, I saw a male tour guide scoot under the “bridge” made by a female tour guide’s bowed back supported by her arms and legs. When she faced him, she put one foot on his chest and left to dance happily by herself albeit in a somewhat flirty way.
Sometimes the dancing suggested a landscape, a tableau or the sheer energy that radiated from some of the art work. Dancing also took on a sculptural look most evident when the two male dancers Tal Adler Arieli and Gilad Jerusalmy performed in an outside courtyard where a number of black, metal sculptures stood.
Since the women in the audience were instructed to choose one listening option, I was treated to the theme from the film “2001 A Space Odyssey,” as outside in sweltering heat, dancers performed a series of shifting, weigh-bearing maneuvers as they lifted, held each other upside down and even in airplane position (horizontal and to the side of the supporting partner). Separately, they soared like rocket ships.
When these dancers finished and re-entered the museum, they were breathing heavily and drenched with sweat. Good thing the program did not call for anymore dancing. Instead, both the Israeli performers and audience were instructed to relax on their backs and listen to a female artist talk about her all-white painting, “The White Lie.” She said, among other things, “In this work, I was in alignment with God” and “The motto that led me was less is more.”
She also noted that her painting evoked more than just the color white such as “milk without a glass” and “an Eskimo landscape.”
The audio recording ended as the narrator said that listeners should also consider “the work you yourself have created in your minds during the past eight minutes.”
I know I’ll never look at a white painting as just a color again.