Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Working on MATKOT

Well, finally, I have some time to write something about the amazing experience of creating MATKOT.
MATKOT was/is an original production by choreographer Nir De Volff, who is originaly from Israel but works in Europe for many years now.
Nir is not the traditional choreographer and although he has extensive background in contemporary dance, nowdays he finds it more interesting to bring a mix of theatre, physical theatre, dance/movement, a very visual stage and other artistic means to the table.
When Nir first aproached me he was intruiged by the way that I move - floreio art, acrobatics, equilibre, etc... He wasnt sure how we can incorporate this into his work, but as a very instinctive and 'gut feeling' kind of person, he decided to give it a go.
I was invited to participate in his new project and was to arrive to Berlin on a quite short notice.
I was also very much 'in the dark' not knowing to what kind of work I am going towards, what will be the creative process or if I am up to the task.

I arrived in Berlin at the start of Nov, and we started working right away. (I actualy went directly from the airport to the studio)
We arrived at the studio complex we were going to work at for the next month or so. It was a very impressive studio, called EDEN, completely new, (I think we were the first production to work there) with excellent flooring, heated and a huge space.

Some props and a prelimenary version of the final stage were already present and I got to meet the other artists.
We were 5 originaly: Nir de Voff, Hyoung Min Kim, Johanna Chemnitz, Ante Pavic and me. After a misfortunate lower back injury and after two weeks of work already, Ante had to drop out of the project.
MATKOT is all about the beach. All the 4 characters have some kind of a connection to the sea/beach and have their own reference to it, but there are also some interelations between the characters as well.
I will not describe too much about the theme, because there is no one theme, and it is not a normal - nerrative theatre or dance piece.
Nir likes to work with dirt. I mean glitches, twitches, jumps, interferance, white noise and unperfect presentations. His core belief is that reality is not perfect, so why should art be any different? Part of this is giving the audience some unresolved matters to deal with. 'Weird stuff' that makes one think, and that also portrays a much more realistic and down to earth piece.
At first, this was very hard for me. I'm am a perfectionist in nature as everyone around me know, and this kind of thing was going against my initial insticts. But then... I chose to let go, learn from it and try to understand a different way to move/create.

Needless to say, this was a very productive experience. In many aspects.
Besides some basic ideas, the whole piece was created by the four of us, in real time- in the studio. Real relationships mingled without visible limits with our 'stage relationships', a joke told outside the studio became another decoration on stage, misheps in the creation process were embraced into the piece.
Nir is not a person who likes to work with traditional acters or acting per se. He believes in bringing something very real (and though, very vulnerable) on stage. A true WYSWYG, (a microsoft coined term - What You See is What You Get) in a way.

Because of my athletic and acrobatic skills and my flow, I was encoureged to use my abilities, but only when it made sense. I was also working with the girls and we developed a trio (movement in threesome) together, which was great, because due to our different backgrounds, it was fresh, interesting, chaotic and not 'dancy-dance'.

During the whole month we were working hard - 8 hours a day of improvisation, rehersal, movement research, brain storming, and try outs.
I was standing on my hands A LOT, as one of the scenes includes a sort of a synchronized swimming inside our plastic ocean.

I was also using my floreio flow skills and created some original sequences, not forgetting to insert some 'non traditional' movements into the mix..

In one of the center scenes I am also performing quite an acrobatic solo, using some airborn acrobatics to create a sequence that was used on stage.

After one month of work, we transfered to the theatre in which we were going to present the piece - eventualy - Dock 11 in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.

Comming closer to the premiere, stress and tension showed their head, but we all maintained a very professional aproach and were able to remain productive. What did happen, after countless of hours of floreio, equilibre and my own strength and conditioning work, (that I was performing daily after the work on the project was done) was I injured my wrist.
It was in the day of the open dress rehersal, which was with live audience. One day before the premiere. The injury was not due to some accident, but an overuse kind of thing. I notified Nir, and he decided to postpone the premiere in two days. What a mess.
I immediatly started my own rehab protocol, and I was sent to an excellent (but very cruel...) therapist to help me with the condition. I was able to partly recover in two days, and perform in the priemere, but I was still in pain.
The injury got better and better, and by the third performance I was already much better.
To my great delight, my girlfriend Shai and a very good friend - Oren came from Israel to watch me perform. We had lots of fun exploring parts of Berlin together and hanging out.

All the performances went very well, we recieved good critiques from the local media in Berlin and some theatre owners from Europe showed interest in the piece. Seats were mostly sold out and we had great audiences each evening. Lots of laughter and clapping were going on.

Besides the work on Matkot, I also made sure I continue my own development and practice of my skills. Daily equilibre, floreio and strength and conditioning were thrown into the mix. As soon as I had some more free time I was also taking interesting movement classes and training in local circus centers and acrobatics facilities. Exchanging ideas with local and other foreign movers/circus artists/dancers/acrobats.
I got to know a TON of new people with similar interests and also gave a small workshop of basic floreio art.
The internet and my blog were without a doubt a great tool for me in Berlin. A lot of new connections were made and I am very glad for this opportunities.

I am now in Israel and just finished unpacking, but as it turns out, I am about to embark to Bangkok, Thailand in a few days. Another production, by TOTAL BRUTAL, another adventure, and at last - summer!

For more information about MATKOT and Nir de Volff's work -
Photos, in the most part, by Bernard Musil.

On another note, my youtube channel has hit lately 250,000 views, in a year time. I am blown away by the response, constant emails I am getting all the time and world wide audience. I have great plans to expand the content I am sharing and will do so, with time.
Stay tuned for some new clips of my daily training, from Bangkok.
See you around, out there,