Beauty of the Beast
In their latest piece ‘Animal Lost’,choreographers Yossi Berg and Oded Graf explore their dancers’ inner animals A good creative spark can go a long way. Choreographers Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, who always seems to get a flame going, unveiled their newest work this week, entitled Animal Lost.
Berg and Graf met more than 10 years ago when they were dancing with major Israeli companies. They quickly found a happy rhythm in work and in life as partners. Since 2005, they have choreographed dozens of pieces, toured the world several times and deeply refined their collaborative tools.
“We have built a non-written way of working together,” explains Graf. “The distribution between us is very even. If we are in the studio and one of us has an idea, he’ll try it out on the dancers as the other one steps aside. It’s very harmonious.”
“We are in constant collaboration,” adds Berg.
Last year, Berg and Graf delighted and shocked audiences with Four Men, Alice, Bach and The Deer. The all-male quartet of dance pieces, which traveled as far as San Francisco, took on issues of gender roles, community and rape. With Four Men, Berg and Graf proved that they are capable of choreographing dance that is both physical and theatrical. The product of talent, ambition and intelligence, Four Men turned many audience members into hard-core fans.
“I always need to be working on something,” says Graf. “If I could, we would always be in some creative process.”
Recently, Graf’s wish has come true. A few months after the premiere of Four Men, Berg and Graf hit the road, taking the show on tour from Germany to the States. In March, they landed in Copenhapen and quickly began work on Animal Lost.
The duo were invited by the Dansescenen Theater and were funded by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bank Nordia and the Danish Cultural Institute. In May, after a two-month creation process, Berg and Graf, along with an international cast, presented 13 performances of Animal Lost.
For their engagement in Israel, they have flown their cast from Sweden, Denmark and France to Israel for four shows at the Inbal Theater in the Suzanne Dellal Center. After these four shows, Animal Lost will tour Spain and Korea.
One of the distinctive qualities in all of Berg and Graf’s creations is humor. Even when tackling difficult subject matter, such as in Four Men, there is an ever-present cleverness in their work. Such is the case for Animal Lost.
Through an exploration of each person’s inner animal, Berg and Graf made an artistic decision to add large masks to the look of the piece. Each dancer is outfitted with his own animal. All told, there is a bunny, a horse, a pig, a penguin and a bear.
Swedish singer Yulia Girtz adds a live musical element to the action on the stage. Uptempo tracks from Algeria, combined with a cast of brightly clothed dancers with animal heads, creates quite an effect.
“Humor is something you either have or you don’t,” says Berg.“You can’t force it.”