Interview // Dorit Weintal about TRUST (On the 22th of october at Plein Theater)
Dorit Weintal (48) is a multidisciplinary artist, dancer and choreographer, who travels the world creating, teaching and performing. In her performances she uses poetry and a strong language of experimental dance to embody and symbolise the human psyche.
In Trust, her latest project, she thoroughly explores how we trust when we walk the path of the unknown. The path of extreme insecurity. A yearlong research resulted in a dance film, a documentary film, dance performances and a music concert with refugees and asylum seekers.
Kim van Beek interviewed Dorit Weintal about the TRUST project for her blog Kim Meets. Read the interview here or on www.kimvanbeek.com.
Interview with Dorit Weintal. Multidisciplinary artist, dancer, choreographer.
Can you tell me a bit about your background, your family, your education?
I grew up in Tel-Aviv, in Israel. My mother is Italian, she migrated from Italy to Israel. My father, born in Tel Aviv, has Polish origins. He grew up in Israel, his grand-parents migrated from Poland to Israel in the 1930’s when anti-Semitism was growing.
‘The human, the multi-cultural, collaborating with different cultures is important for me.’
I am trained as a professional modern dancer and later I achieved a master’s degree in the theory of Arts and Architecture at the Tel Aviv University. They asked me if I wanted to continue with a PHD to further study the work of the architect Zvi Hecker, but I needed to go back to the physical, to embody the themes that I love. Space, light, kinaesthetics of movement, the collaboration with people. My work on stage, my dance concerts are always interactions between different dimensions that I have been exploring all my life – poetry, architecture, philosophy and dance.
‘Both my parents are architects. I grew up with the implication of space, landscapes, environment, sensitivity to material, to movement, to light.’ My poems are also a bit architectonical.’
When did you start dancing?
When I was five I started climbing walls, climbing on things in the living room.. for my parents it was clear that I had to explore myself physically. I did gymnastics, quite hard-core, from my eight to my thirteen’s, and I studied ballet and modern dance at the Bat-dor school of dance. After finishing high school, I joined professional dance classes, and started collaborating with Clipa theatre. This collaboration strongly influenced me as an artist. They make total theater: An art performance in which all elements –music, voice, movement and spectacle work together. They create their own music, costumes, light, poetry.
What is your new project Trust about?
In ‘Trust’ I explore the questions ‘What is trust?’ and ‘How do we connect?’ The project is a combination of poetry, dance performances, films, and music. A solo dance performance, based on a poem I wrote, the poem is a metaphor of the human condition entangled within the labyrinth of life, a dance performance in collaboration with Maria Mavridou and composer Simone Giacomini, a music concert in collaboration with refugees, asylum seekers and newcomers, who left their home, their country, and have a strong feeling of insecurity, of being ‘in between’.
The Meevaart theatre in Amsterdam Oost hosted your open rehearsals from January to July 2020. Due to Covid-19 the theatre had to close its doors..
Soon after, I met the director of het Plein Theater who gave us the opportunity to create instant work while live streaming. We were rehearsing online and presenting it through het Plein Theater. A great, unexpected meeting and a total new experience of live streaming.
How did you approach the refugees?
It was a very interesting experience in itself to find participants who wanted to join on a voluntary base and to commit for a long period. I had help from an asylum seeker who gave me names and I went to different refugee centres, including AZC Hoogeveen.
I can imagine it is hard to find refugees with a theatrical background?
I was interested in meeting anyone who was interested in the theme, even without experience. For me it was important to meet with people who are willing to express themselves and to dive deep into this process with me. This was a new experience for me as well as I am used to working with professional performers. The participants who join all have different skills, that was for me the most important thing. Some of them sing, some of them play an instrument. Due to limited time for rehearsals I focused on vocal and musical performances. Practising dance or body movements takes time and space we didn’t have due to covid-19.
Regarding their background, how did you make the participants feel comfortable during the rehearsals?
For me it was –and still is- an exciting journey as well and I strongly feel the path unfolds itself while we walk it. I think they felt that energy, because in a way I work with energies. I think they felt the same way. That was the common ground we walked on. I work intuitively.
The refugees you work with, from which countries do they come?
The participants come from Syria, Egypt, Trinidad-Tobago, Iran, Israel. It’s a small group. Recently I also met undocumented migrants –most of them are from Africa- who don’t have a European passport and live in the Netherlands without a status. Some migrants live here for many years, while they are not permitted to have a job. Some of them have a roof, some don’t. They live in extreme uncertainty. This was an unexpected, and beautiful meeting. They showed us their drawings and photographs and we decided to exhibit this work, as part of the project -Trust. The exhibition is held in het Plein Theater, organised in collaboration with Stichting ‘In between borders’. I created a film, together with the cinematographer Roman Zotter, in which they participate as well, without identifying them to respect their privacy.
How did the idea evolve to collaborate with refugees and asylum seekers? The research started with a poem I wrote: ‘The Path of Paradox – The Contemporary Emergence of the Human-Mouse’. It’s a metaphor of the human condition entangled within the labyrinth of life: ‘How do we walk when we don’t know where we are.’ ‘How do we connect.’ The poem focusses on the world migration phenomenon. I made an art film, together with my artistic team, based on the poem, because the poem is very visual. We went to the bunkers in Zandvoort, Ijmuiden and to the tunnels on Pampus Island to create the film. After the realisation of the film I had a strong feeling this research was not enough. Artistically yes, but I wanted to connect with people who had to flee their country because of violence, war, gender – people who are going through an extreme feeling of uncertainty. That is when I started to connect with refugees and asylum seekers. In AZC Hoogeveen for example, the refugees live in a building that used to be a prison. For me it was also important to meet them in the environment where they stay. I met them there and we talked about the meaning of ‘home’. The past year of meeting the refugees, hearing their stories, their energy, that is what I try to embody and put on the stage. Together with Maria, my dance partner.
What is your biggest drive behind Trust?
This whole process has been about trusting myself as well. How the process evolved was an unknown path; working with people who don’t practice performing arts as a profession, working with what we have, making live stream performances. When you walk an unknown path, you have to rely on your experience and at the same time break with existing thinking patterns. So my biggest drive is the challenge to have trust in myself while the project evolves.
‘Beauty opens the mind’, usually, when you look at art. It opens the mind for a thought behind the work. In your performances you often choose movements of the body which are uncomfortable to look at instead of the aesthetic in movements. Why?
In the performance I perform with my co-dancer Maria. Maria and I both went to the bunkers and we started to explore the theme how do you walk when you don’t know where you are and even what you are. In the bunkers we embodied the landscape. Whether it is dark corridors or overexposed landscape. I asked the cinematographer to overexpose the images outdoors so there is a lot of light coming in. In the book Blindness, by the Portugese writer José Saramago (1995), Saramago talks about an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone. In the book the people could only see white! So for me this whiteness was interesting visually. And in the studio, I continued to ask myself the question ‘how do we walk or how do we move when we can’t see’. Then you are not necessarily walking stable. ‘How can I express vulnerability through the body?’ I researched uncomfortable movement vocabulary in which the body does not know where it goes. Maybe the body does not see where it is, or suddenly collapses. Imagining you are drowning in waters, trying to get air. The vulnerability that things constantly change. A physicality that shows insecurity and the unexpected.
What do you show during the performances on 22-10-2020 in het Plein Theater and in Framed Framed on 24-10-2020?
In Framer Framed – an exhibition space for contemporary art – we are going to do a mix of presentations. I will do an excerpt of my solo performance (based on my poem), there will be a performance together with my co-dancer Maria, and a concert with the participants. This is the performative aspect. Besides this we show the dance film made on Pampus island and the film made with the participants (refugees.) The audience can also listen to the poem through headphones or read the poem in a book. In het Plein Theater I will do my dance solo performance, not an excerpt but the whole performance. We also show the screenings of both films, the concert with the participants, and the exhibition of photographs and drawings made by undocumented migrants.Back to news overview