May Zarhy | Presencia

May Zarhy |  Presencia

Presencia is a work about memory and movement.

Dance is based on the essential fact that dancers learn and memorize movements they will repeat again and again. But these memories of the actual choreographic moves are imbedded with other personal memories, recall other works, or remind common life kinetic experiences. All these, unconsciously inform what takes place on stage.

Paraphrasing American scholar Donna Haraway we could say that it matters what personal memories are evoked when memorizing choreographic movements. And when two dancers meet on stage, it matters what each movement means for each one of the dancers. 

In order to act out memories and render them visible to the public, for Presencia, May Zarhy and the dancers Brit Rodemund and Dominic Santia created a duet based on touch and then omitted the touch while insisting on performing the same movements. To reinforce this skill they took pantomime classes. In that process, Zarhy addressed not only the personal memories of the dancers, but created a common field of mindfulness with the public, who is able to interpret and understand the otherwise abstract gestures onstage, and identify a flow that is based on recollection, and one that is clearly abstract. The soundtrack by Daniela Ljungsberg made mostly from layers of recordings of sounds produced by movements of the dancers, likewise relates to the memory of the creative process.

As is Ausencia and other previous works, in Presencia, Zarhy dwells in that gap between the concrete and the abstract – between functional, daily movements and ones that we could call dance – that are the basis of her practice. That is where the question of “memory” is instrumental as the main mechanism of “identification” both for the dancers and for the public. Most importantly, it’s a quest into the way that personal sensations can be shared with the other – with the audience – and to practice a deep listening so that in Zarhy’s own words: “something intimate can be shared.”

Presencia is a continuation of a choreographic research made by Zarhy in 2021, which produced a duet performed by one person – Ariel Gelbart – called Ausencia. Ausencia was presented in Suzanne Dellal in Tel Aviv Dance Festival 2021, in Atelier Shemi in Kabri and at the Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv-Yafo.

Choreographer May Zarhy (1984) is an independent artist, whose work ranges between stage pieces, site-specific and participatory works. In her work, she is drawn to the intersection of choreography, performance, and sound art.

I Since 2021, Zarhy directs the post-graduate choreography program in Kelim center. She works as a dramaturg and rehearsal director for fellow artists, and teaches at places such as: pro-mornings at Suzanne Dellal Center, Moving Community at Yasmeen Godder’s company, The School of Visual Theater Jerusalem and more. Zarhy graduated from the Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands in 2006. During her studies, she also worked as William Forsythe’s assistant at the Forsythe Company (2005). In 2007, she completed Xavier Le Roy and Mathilde Monnier’s ex.e.r.ce post-graduate program, in Montpellier, France. Later, Zarhy co-founded with Fabrice Mazliah and Ioannis Mandafounis the collaborative trio Mamaza (2009 – 2014), with whom she created and performed around the world. The trio members were selected as associate artists at deSingel, Antwerp (2011-2012), and resident artists at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt (2012-2014).

Choreography: May Zarhy
Created with and performed by: Brit Rodemund, Dominic Santia
Music: Daniella Ljungsberg
Rehearsal director: Moran Muller
Outside eye: Ariel Gelbart
Light: Rotem Elroy
Costumes: Vivi Ben Ezra
Research assistant: Nitsan Margaliot
Pantomime coaching: Katja Tannert
Consultation costumes: Claudia Hill
Technical assistant: Felix Lindner
Production: Dino Spiri, Alina Zhutovsky
Jubal Battisti

Supported by:
Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media within the program NEUSTART KULTUR
Mifal Hapais
Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts, Tel Aviv
Thanks to: Adi Nachman, Tal Kantor.

Studio Zehava & Jack