Screensaver is a highly contemporary work from Israel’s finest choreographer Rami Be’er, the director of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Philip Bergmann, from Arnsberg in Germany, is the latest addition to Íslenski dansflokkurinn and one of three foreign lads who have been lured over here to work with them.
“Yes, when I started dancing it was not thought to very cool for guys to be doing this and if you were a male dancer it was automatically presumed that you were gay,” he says. “Dance has moved away from gender specification and is now much more about the body and movement. Things are getting more physical, more demanding and tougher. In that regard we are not quite on the same level as gymnasts but close.”
Screensaver incorporates modern dance with images projected onto the stage and the dancers from several projectors. The music is modern and the theme of the piece is highly topical and very political; war and human conflict are its central themes.
“There are two basic themes running through the piece,” Philip continues, “serene beauty on the one hand and, on the other hand, it is set against strong and harsh images and then the whole thing is underscored with powerful modern techno music and at one point baroque music.”
Here Philip got very animated and launched into different dance moves to illustrate how classical ballet strives to give you movements that surge upwards whereas modern dance moves tend to be more earthbound. It got a bit technical for a while, especially for someone like me who considers vigorous typing to be the limit for physical exercise. So instead I asked him about Israel which apparently is a country renowned for their dancers and choreographers and has a strong reputation in the dance world.
“Ah, you Icelanders do not know what a gem you have here in your own country. If this company was based in one of the larger cities of Europe it would be considered one of the most successful ones. There are not many companies in the world that have this repertoire. Having seen that, I decided to come here for a few days last May and the weather was beautiful, that really fooled me! The auditions where very hard. We worked for seven hours a day for several days but it all went well and here I am. I have a contract for one year, but hopefully I can stay a little bit longer. Although I must say that I had quite a culture shock when I first came, everything is so different.”
Slow busses, fast dancers
Philip is not impressed with the transport system in Reykjavík.“No, it is not as well organised as in Germany.” He also thinks that rehearsals are very different here in Iceland.
“Yes, here you work quicker and harder. No hanging about, it was simply a case of Ok, you are here, let’s work. There was no tender-footing around the new boy and that was something I really appreciated. Another major difference is that in Germany a member of the company would never correct you and if someone is not doing his work right that can both affect your work and the quality of the show. Here the group works together to make everything as perfect as possible.”
Have you had time to take a look at the famous Reykjavík nightlife?
“Yes, of course, although we dancers can’t join in the heavy drinking that seems to be going on, but we love to dance and on Saturday nights that is what we do,” he said as he put on a huge coat before walking off towards a nice long wait in a Reykjavík bus shelter.
Screensaver opens on October 22nd.