Reut Shemesh

2023/24 Familie Tanz

With “ESTHER”, Israeli choreographer Reut Shemesh has developed a dance piece for young audiences that deals with identity development and group affiliation. The focus is on the concrete examination of uniform(ing) and the embodiment of social norms.

In several pieces (including Cobra Blonde, Atara, Gola, Leviah), Reut Shemesh has worked on gender politics and body-related mechanisms of control and power. Choreographically, she is interested in exploring social bonds, their codes and their gestures. How is the sense of community reflected in attitudes, dress codes and rituals? What role do colors, signs and symbols such as flags, shoes and clothing play? What individual forms of expression does a body in uniform(ing) experience? These questions tie in with the autobiographical and artistic expertise of the choreographer, who experienced the influence of uniforms on body movement and perception herself as a dancer and soldier in military service in Israel. In the research phase for the piece, Reut Shemesh already involves the project’s target group (14+) and works with different young groups on the topic in all cities. In Dresden, Reut Shemesh visited the Knabenchor Dresden and the Dresdner Kapellknaben.

Duration: ca. 50 min
Without language
Family ticket for 37 €

Following the performance on 14.06. there will be an audience discussion. 

This interview was led via fabrik Potsdam.

What inspired the theme of your latest stage production Esther?

The theme of Esther revolves around youth and uniforms. Over the last seven years, I’ve dealt with this topic a lot in previous plays, for example with women and military uniforms in Israel and with the Funkenmariechen in Düsseldorf. For me, it’s also about uniforms in society and how young people can be instrumentalised with uniforms. The uniforms usually come from adults and I’m interested in how the view of children and young people changes with the uniforms. I was a gymnast myself as a girl. Today I think we wore very tight clothes. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked!

How and with whom are you working specifically for the premiere in Potsdam?

I want to work with “re-enactment” – in other words, re-enacting and recreating existing photos of young people in different uniforms. Some of the photos were taken by myself, others are from an open call that we shared in Potsdam, Hamburg, Dresden and Munich, sometimes with old uniforms that are no longer in use, like the Pioneer uniform. We have a large collection of pictures. I also met young people from different cities: a boys’ choir in Dresden, scouts in Munich, hockey players in Hamburg, as well as young people from Potsdam.

What can the experience of dance pieces trigger in young people?

Dance pieces can bring a lot to young people! Teenagers’ bodies change a lot, but when I was young I was already dancing and I was proud of it. Dance can be a little remedy to look at the body in a different way. Dance can be experimental, surprising and unexpected. It’s something very cool and appealing for young people to experiment with.

What is your background? What was your youth like?

I grew up in Israel. My youth wasn’t easy – my parents got divorced, I wasn’t so good at school – and I literally escaped into dance. It was a very beautiful and helpful place to strengthen myself. Then I studied choreography and art. I moved to Germany 10 years ago. Coming to Europe was a kind of liberation for me, which had to do with the fact that I was identified in a certain way in Israel, which was no longer the case abroad. In Germany, I was simply someone from Israel…

Reut Shemesh works across genres at the interface of contemporary dance, poetry and experimental film. In 2019, tanz magazine named her Hope of the Year, she received an invitation to the Tanzplattform Deutschland 2020 in Munich for “Atara” and numerous award nominations. In 2016, she was awarded the Cologne Dance and Theater Prize.

Concept & Choreography: Reut Shemesh
Dance and Co-Choreography: Juliana Oliveira, Kelvin Kilonzo, Mihyun Ko, Brit Rodemund, Enis Turan
Light and Set Design: Ronni Shendar
Costume Design: Marie Siekmann
Music: Micha Kaplan
Choreographic assistance: Katja Pire
Technical Support, Light, Stage: Jens Siewert, Ricardo Block
Production: Sabina Stücker
Photo: Jonas Zeidler

Esther is a joint production by fabrik moves Potsdam and Reut Shemesh, in co-production with K3 | Tanzplan Hamburg, Fokus Tanz | Tanz und Schule e.V. München and HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden as part of the cooperation explore dance – Netzwerk Tanz für junges Publikum. Funded by the Jupiter – Performing Arts for Young Audiences program of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The explore dance network is supported by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.