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Choreographer, intellectual, dancer, film and television actress, and the acclaimed artist Renana Raz is a leading voice in the young generation of Israeli choreographers pursuing various artistic genres. Renana’s ongoing project and brainchild YouMake ReMake has gained national and international acclaim. Renana talks to ICONS about YouMake ReMake and how her experience living in Israel has informed and guided her creativity throughout her career:
ICONS: What do you think is the characteristic of contemporary dance in Israel that makes it different from dance in the rest of the world?
Renana Raz: I can say that the dance scene in Israel is very creative and turbulent. What’s noteworthy is that it produces very interesting and talented choreographers, each one unique in their way and artistic language. Being a small country, and even a smaller scene, there is a danger that people will be influenced by each other; however, what distinguishes the Israeli dance, in my eyes, is its originality and innovation. Many times I feel it is perhaps a reaction to the tangled political reality the state of Israel is in, because the reality so often gives rise to the feeling of being stuck and locked within oneself. Creation allows the invention of other spaces, independent spaces full of creative freedom.
ICONS: What is the current project you are working on, YouMake ReMake?
RR: YouMake ReMake is a project that has followed me for the past six years. It continues developing, expanding, and reaching a variety of audiences. YouMake ReMake is a unique and multi-disciplinary performance, consisting of artistic responses to YouTube dance videos taking place on stage. As stated in the YouMake ReMake website, the remakes change and manipulate the original YouTube videos; they play with and display perceptions and contexts; they turn things inside-out and upside down and also raise bigger questions such as: What is fine art? What is inspiration? And how does context affect the way we experience art?
At the moment, alongside the YouMake ReMake shows, I am busy with a show I’ve directed, “The Hearing,” based on documentary materials, of an ordeal that took place in Israel in January 2014. It’s a creation that is very dear and important to me, and although it does not have movement in the choreographic sense, it certainly uses the relations between body and text, and I think the manner in which I’ve directed the piece expresses choreographic abilities of another form. It addresses the composition of the space, the actors’ voices and the relations between audience and performers.
ICONS: How do you start a choreography creation and what is your reason to make a dance?
RR: Every work starts differently. Sometimes it’s an image that sticks in my mind, sometimes it’s an idea, sometimes it’s a sensation. That is why I love creating, because there is a secret and a surprise that takes me on a journey of revelation. I can say for certain that when such a process begins, I hear bells in my head. When I find the spark that ignites a creation, I feel impatient and full of energy, and it gives me the drive to get into a studio or a rehearsal room and start working.
ICONS: Please tell us about your creative processes – how do you make, construct, and compose dances?
RR: Usually I walk into the studio with some idea I wish to investigate. I share it with the dancers, give them some images and anchors, and we begin improvising. The process is very influenced by the people I work with, and I know the same idea with different people may develop into totally different places. What’s important to me is to get into the studio with a lot of curiosity and alertness, and knowing how to choose between all the possibilities. Choreography is to me, above all, a labor of choosing rather than inventing.
ICONS: What would the Renana of today tell the younger Renana of ten years ago?
RR: First, creativity is a key and gift of life. Let it lead you, even if at times it will not fall into the standard definitions. Secondly, a creation process must be fulfilling and charging. Notice the balance between the energy you take out and the energy that goes in. Finally, the last bit of advice is a sentence I got in a Chinese fortune cookie once, which I’m still keeping in my wallet: “Your ability to see the silly in the serious will take you far.”
More About Renana…
In 2010 Renana developed and launched "YouMake ReMake,” which is a commentary on YouTube clips of dance on video and on stage. This ongoing project has won national and international interest and success. In 2011 she created “The Diplomats” which was commissioned by the Suzanne Dellal Center. Since 2012 Renena has been the artistic director of an event entitled Contact Point at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.
In 2006 Renena received the Young Artist Rosenblum Award and the Ministry of Culture Award for choreographers. In 2007-2008 she received the Teva Grants for choreography. She also has received grants from the Yehoshua Rabinovitz Foundation, the National Lottery Company, BI-ARTS (the British Council's British Israeli Arts Training Scheme), and the Buchman Heiman Foundation.
Renana Raz began creating independently in 1999. Her pieces include "We Have Been Called to Go"; "Asking for Starts"; "Phantoms"; "Motel"; "Kazuaria"; and "Ov.” In both 2002 and 2003 Renana won the Israeli Ministry of Culture Award for young choreographers. In 2004 she won the Best Choreography Award at the Israeli Theatre Awards for the theater play "Osher," directed by Miki Gurevitz (Jerusalem Khan Theater).
Renena’s creations have appeared on stages in Israel, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Holland, Japan, Denmark, Cameroon, England, Russia, Slovakia, Cyprus, Korea and the United States to the acclaim of both audiences and theater/dance critics. For more information contact Renana at email@example.com
© Interview by Dance ICONS Inc.
Camilla Acquista, Editor
Rinana Raz, portrait photography by Eyal Landesman
Phantoms (2004) , photoography by Iris Nesher
The Diplomats (2011) ,Photography by Gadi Dagon