Dance Talk

Ora Brafman

Yasmeen Godder- ‘Practicing Empathy #3’, at Suzanne Dellal 24/09/21

Choreographer /dancer Yasmeen Godder is a prominent name on our contemporary dance scene for over two decades.  Her latest creation ‘Practicing Empathy #3’ a part of a chain under ‘Practicing Empathy’ title -commenced in 2019- is composed of three separate links. The first two creations in that series involve spectators and dancers on informal performance’ spaces, practicing actions that enhance their ties through emotional involvement, paving a way to demonstrate a rising degree of empathy involving trust- which is the designated goal.

Similar techniques were practiced in some of Godder’s earlier creations.  She was keen on finding ways to research the issue through various verbal and corporal means that eventually could be expressed through dance.

The process that enabled interactions between audience and dance professionals, led to mellow hierarchy by acting on same stage, and by building close encounters which led to those empathic human contacts, a rather fresh, challenging notion.

Godder had originally planned to do P.E. #3  as a group work. Under the Covid-19 constraints, she decided to work solo for the first time, after years of working with her group. The performance took place on Dellal’s stage that was surrounded by chairs for over fifty viewers. Godder opened with a long set of energetic skips and jumps accompanied by determent hands and feet gestures while making sure she keeps an eye contact on her rounds with each spectator. She got stamina and seemed more fluid than before as she crisscrossed the central space. It was surprising to hear her say that dancing solo didn’t feel natural to her. I wouldn’t have guessed, since this section performed with a tight and concise showmanship, translated into unusually expressive facial innuendoes, as if one could see thoughts and fleeting unplanned inner emotions.

In between scenes, Godder introduced several gorgeous, soft and colorful fiber-art sculptured objects made by talented Gili Avisar, and looked for ways to use them, which is what you do with such props.

 The next section came and unexpectedly, it turned out to be a bona fide workshop session as Godder asked viewers to close their eyes and go through a sort of spiritual guidance, and guided imagery. The lights on stage were turned down while Godder sat under the only spotlight, illuminated as a Master would. Subject-wise, the session section was within the context yet a bit out of sync with the evening’s reasonable flow.

The last part enabled Godder to let herself go far, but stay within her comfort zone. In fact, she was the one-woman show in an imagined fair, giving delightful entertainment act with wonderland’s pizzazz. She strapped on her body a contraption with a pair of large dolls on it, which enable the threesome to dance and be merry while the soft dolls dangled in sync with her moves, exposing a playful facet of her: Godderish to the core.