The Dance, research and history of Yotam Peled in a world torn apart by hatred

Yotam Peled is an artist who loves to travel bringing his artistic creations more or less anywhere in the world. Choreographer, dancer and actor, he also performed in Rome with his solo “Boys Don’t Cry”. He was selected and strongly supported by Davide Romeo, the innovative artistic director of “Corpo Mobile” Festival, who introduced him to the audience that appreciated his talent. It was inevitable he would be awarded with the main prize, the artistic residence, as well as the second one as “best dancer”. It was the most intense moment of a contemporary dance event and choreographic experimentation, of a redevelopment of the territory, hosted by Teatrocittà theatre, in a peripheral context that Mr. Romeo defined as a “network, a strong, human response and a 360-degree sharing”.

Yotam Peled was born on a kibbutz in northern Israel in 1989. He started dancing at 21; he studied dance, theater and contemporary circus. Later he worked as a freelance for several choreographers and companies, including Maura Morales, Yann L’hereux, Troels Primdahl, Jill Crovisier, Mitita Fedotenko and performed in festivals and venues in Israel, Germany, Japan, Italy, France and Vietnam. His stylistic signature combines acrobatic and contemporary. It moves from the concept of breaking form, triggering virtuosity in a flow. His technique is the result of physical experience, of a balance between pushing and reaching the maximum, using the minimum necessary.

In Boys Don’t Cry, Yotam Peled moves on the floor, easily tackles difficult movements. His energy is soft and effective, the dynamics move from inside to outside and the other way around. The last award in chronological order was given last June 15th in Poland. At the Gdański Festiwal Tańca the solo won the public prize and the third place of the jury prize in addition to those of MASDANZA, Awaji street art in Japan and Wurzburg dance festival. His upcoming events include the Danceacrobatics in Barcelona with Kenan Dinkelmann (June 29th and 30th) and Alpha’s long-awaited premiere in Berlin. Following him in his movements requires adequate training, but once Yotam starts talking, it’s as if time stops and the interlocutor dances with him.

Boys Don’t Cry – Yotam Peled – Performance di Barak Rotem.

The origins, the beginning, the influences, your experience… How much and how they have determined the artist you are today

I grew up in a Kibbutz, and I didn’t think I’d become an artist. I was always interested in creative work, and enjoyed painting and fine arts, but I spent most of my time in social or political activities, through education work. When I was eighteen I came out of the closet as homosexual, at the same time I also joined the Israeli military forces. Everyone in Israel has to do it. During that time I began to live my sexual identity as I wanted to, and luckily I received a lot of support. It was very critical shaping who I am as an artist, or how I started forming my artistic identity. Through the experiences I had, dealing with my emotions and my sexuality, I understood that it was something that I want to share and work with. I was always very athletic and loved sports, but I only started to dance when I was twenty-one, after finishing the Military Service. When I moved from Israel to Berlin I felt free to research and create, to find my own voice in dance. It was very clear for me that I want to begin with my origins, with my life – that was the first step. When I learned how to tell my story I was also able to tell people’s stories. The experiences of growing up in a socialist environment, spending time in Israel defence Forces, coming out as homosexual… even if they didn’t direct the decisions that I make today as an artist, they had a big influence on my vision and the topics I choose to work with.

Was it a conservative society in Israel, where you lived, or not? What about the importance of a military system and discipline for a young male dancer?

The society in Israel is quite complex, and I will try to describe it in a way that is true to reality, since it is not something that you can say in a few words. Where I grew up is not very conservative, I was very lucky and privileged to have a supporting family and good friends. Other parts of Israel can be quite conservative. Many things are still a taboo – especially homosexual relationships. Men sharing their feelings, exploring their emotional world, and men dancing are things that are not forbidden, but they are not well seen. There is still a macho-man prototype, a topic I research in my work, that is somehow related to our army-culture. (All men and women go to Military Service) For men it is not usual to share their feelings, to discuss what they go through. There are scars and open wounds left, especially on the ones that go to Combat Service.

There is something in the character of Israeli man that is hard, strong and heroic, it also blocks him from dealing with the stress and his burden. I did not do combat service, I was in the field of education, and I did office work. It was almost like a job I think if I didn’t wear a Uniform or had a commander, it was not what you can imagine as military service. I took some of the narrative of the Army into my work, especially for the solo ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Part of it is based on experiences of other people, regarding the History of War in Israel, and the other part is playing with people’s’ fantasies of what the Army is, what it is like to be a Soldier. People tend to see soldiers and war as sexy, heroic and beautiful. Reality Is not like that, it’s a business of death actually. When I created this solo work, and also the rest of my choreographies, gestures and actions from daily life emerged into dance. This is why Boys Don’t Cry contains a lot of actions that everyone has to do while training in the Army – as well as the rigidness and the discipline. I believe a lot in the Communication of ideas through gestures, in choreography that comes from real intentions and real actions. In this way I can tell a story without using literal theater.

What moved you to Corpo Mobile Festival? Tell us more about the day you have decided it: how did you feel and what happened after?

I’ve heard of Corpo Mobile through a friend I have in Rome; she told me about the Festival, and I am always in search of opportunities to present my work to new audiences and new places. I had no expectations. I had read some information about it, but didn’t have a clear idea of what it is like. When I arrived at the theater I was quite surprised, because I imagined it would be big and in the center of Rome. I actually really liked the fact that it was small and in the suburbs, and that so many people with different backgrounds can approach contemporary dance through the festival.

There was a lot of energy and the feeling of a community. I was happy to discover so many strong italian dancers and artists in the festival. Everyone was open, interested in my work and having a dialogue with me, as well as sharing their own. Corpo Mobile is created by people who want to communicate and be together. The festival’s performances were intense and beautiful. Each time I perform Boys Don’t Cry it is different, because of the place, the people and my emotional state.
I had no expectations to receive awards for my performance. It surprised me very much, as well as all the support I received from the festival and from the jury. Even if none of us did it for prizes or the money, it is reassuring when people appreciate and support your work

What do you think about the urgency of bringing the dance and experimenting on the suburbs of a big city?

We are in a critical situation which I’ve talked about some time ago with a friend of mine. Many people talk about dance as a dying art. I think that if you want to create dance, you need to share it in places where people can join you and be part of it, by finding platforms that make the community evolve. It starts with the cost of the ticket, the choice of the place, who is the performer. It should be a social action that is open to all, not just a small Elite. Unfortunately in many places Dance is still something reserved and for a few privileged people not for everyone.

Is there something in Boys Don’t cry that connects sexual identity, masculine and feminine, with emotions and crying?

I like working with kitsch. I think it can create an easy way for people to connect with an idea. I don’t know exactly when or how the title came. I think that more or less everywhere it is simple for men to express their emotions. Boys Don’t Cry refers to this. Especially for boys, not just men. It has to do with education: when you grow up you learn your role in society, and that “masculine” means to lock up inside a part of your emotional world. The journey I made with my sexual identity has allowed me deal with, and slowly undo these blocks. This performance is important for me since it gives a possibility for people who look at me, especially men, to go somewhere with themselves and let something happen inside.

What can you anticipate about your new productions and new creations?

At the moment, and since the end of last year, I am involved with a long-term project. It is a trilogy of performances of dance-theater that aim to expand the connection between the religious history of mankind, evolution, gender roles, and power structures in modern society.

The first performance is called ALPHA; it is a project that will have its premiere in Berlin in August 21-23. with five incredible dancers, in a space called “Trauma Bar und Kino”. ALPHA exists in an alternative universe, trying to imagine how society could have been different If only we had made other choices in the past – relating to the religious and scientific origins of the homo-sapiens. We work with masculine and the feminine, and how have they formed our society. Different gender roles and different power structures can create different societies. It’s a bit of a cynical and a dark piece, and touches difficult topics, and I hope that with the collaboration of the other artists involved in this production I will manage to create something powerful. This project was also selected to a platform called Talent Lab, in the Grand Theater of Luxembourg, which is mentored by famous choreographer Hofesh Shechter, who will assist me in the first process of creation.

The second part of the creation will take place in the Choreographic Center of Heidelberg, and we will finish and premiere the piece in Trauma Bar und Kino in Berlin. The venue is a theater, a cinema and a club, and aims to attract alternative audiences and support the queer community.

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