The Blue Zone will premiere at the Israel Festival next monthIn
this work, the twelve dancers question and explore their perception of Zionism and the role of the Zionist woman. Their reflections are accompanied by original music by Avi Belleli.
One of the advantages of the period we are living in is that we have learned to differentiate between what is necessary and what is superfluous.
For each of us, individually, there are people, activities and facilities that we cannot do without and others that we can do without at the moment. In the first case, we are prepared to take measured risks and sacrifice certain comforts.
When the coronavirus crisis hit Israel, choreographer Galit Liss was about to do several things: go on tour in Japan and Germany and go ahead with a new show.
Unlike many of his peers in the dance world, Liss’ dancers are all over 60 years old. Some are over 80 years old.
“We had to ask how to get back and how to stay safe,” says Liss.
“Our oldest dancer is 80 years old. Not everyone came back to the studio after the lockdown but a lot came backWe
were 14 and now we’re 12.
It really showed me what’s important. Artists don’t work, budgets are cut and I suddenly see how strong people had to choose to be in this artistic space.
We choose this unstable terrain and find a way to create life.
“And that gives strength. There is health, but there is also mental health“.
After months of interruption, Liss reunited with the remaining dancers and continued his journey to the Blue Zone, which will premiere next month as part of the Israel Festival.
The return to the studio was not without its difficulties, in fact some of these difficulties have found their way into the work.
“There was the first lockdown in March,” explains Orit Gross, a dancer and long-time collaborator of Liss.
“We worked on Zoom and when the isolation ended there was a choice to make.
We are all considered to be at high risk because of our age. Not all of us are in perfect health, some of us have partners who are ill . I chose not to give up.“
It’s complicated, so as not to give up creation, I had to give up a lot of other things. I don’t meet people and I don’t go to shopping centres. I had another grandson and I see him but with a mask. But above all, I protect myself so that I can come to the studio and feel safe.
In the show, we are from beginning to end with masks. There are also gloves. We don’t dance freely. The body moves, dances, faces the challenges of creation but the lower part of the face is closed”.
For 12 years, Liss has focused her creative energies on the body of the elderly woman.
She began by teaching workshops, which evolved from one casting to the next. Her works Gila and Go have been critically acclaimed in Israel and also abroad.
After leaving the audience amazed by the 18 performers of Go, Liss returned to the studio with some of his trusted collaborators to start a new project.
In Go, Liss drew a line between two extremes: ballerinas and fighter pilots. On stage, her dancers tackled both images, embodying both stereotypes of masculinity while at the same time presenting the fantasy of so many little girls.
In Blue Zone, she examines how the Zionist ideal and femininity can exist in the same space, in the same bodies.
“We met in November 2019,” explains Liss. “We started with the idea of an unstable floor. With how the body can find a way to create stability on unstable ground. This led us to ask ourselves questions about home and acclimatisation.
It’s amazing how relevant these images have become. We talked about home and belonging. Orit brought a card that her parents received when she was born, it came from the Ramat Gan municipality and was sent to every home that had a child. It was written: “a girl who is loyal to her parents and her country”.
Gross goes on to say that she lived abroad before the birth of her first child. At some point during her pregnancy, she realized that she had to return to Israel to give birth. She traces this desire back to this map, to the feeling that this simple map conveyed.
In the work, the twelve dancers question and explore their perception of Zionism and the role of the Zionist woman. Their daydreams are accompanied by original music by Avi Belleli.
He kept saying, ‘You’re so nice, but not everything is nice,'” says Liss. “We wanted to bring protest, anger, but through the bodies of our elders, it was difficult to bring this place without illustrating. The music is like lava about to erupt. It is between the past and the future. We use material that is between the old and the future – from low tech to high tech”.
While in Go, the dancers wore flight suits, in Blue Zone, they are dressed in dresses made by designer Maya Bash. “The dress speaks of the Zionist ethos but it is also feminine. You can see them in these dresses,” adds Liss.
The name of the piece reflects the space in which Liss was finally able to work, despite the risks and restrictions. “The blue zone, which is a concept, refers to places where people live in community. There is one in Okinawa, Japan, where there is a high level of social engagement, where every member of the family has a place so that they live longer and healthier lives. If only we could find it here. I think that in this unstable situation, our artistic work is our blue zone.
Galit Liss will present Blue Zone at the Israel Festival on the 9th and 10th of September.
For more information, visit www.israel-festival.org.