Nir de Volff suggests sitting by the window in Amarin Plaza's food court because he wants to gaze at the streets of Bangkok. The Israel-born, Berlin-based dancer, choreographer and founder of the Total Brutal dance company says he loves the city's energy, especially the combination of Buddhism and the state of chaos on the streets.
Scenes from Nir de Volff’s past works.
De Volff first came to Thailand in 2010, when he brought his creation The Ministry Of Truth to Patravadi Theatre and collaborated with local performers. This time, budget and time limitations made collaboration with local performers impossible, so instead there will be a workshop at Rumpuree World Dance Studio. And this weekend, Total Brutal will stage Dancing To The End, a piece exploring death on the personal level and in contemporary cultures.
The 38-year-old spoke to Life about different cities and how they influence his feeling about death, growing up in Israel, and Dancing To The End.
Why did you choose to explore death, and at this age?
There's a global fear that we all share that wherever we are in the world, things can happen at any time. I feel very safe in Berlin... but I wanted to come here and see how it would feel in Bangkok and think about the same things I think about in Berlin. And I find Bangkok scarier. There's more traffic, there are many more rats, it's so dirty here.
You were born and grew up in Israel. How does that culture deal with death?
Nir de Volff will perform in Bangkok this Saturday.
That is a very significant part of my creation and my being. So this piece is a reflection of my childhood and my years in Israel. There, death is a daily issue. The country is wrapped in conflicts and death. And I grew up with an awareness that anything can happen at anytime. [In the piece], I talk about what I learned in the army _ sacrificing your life for the sake of the country, for the security of the country, for the future of the country.
You use pop music in this piece. Tell us about this choice.
I'm going use the impossible mix of classical and pop and jazz.
It's about the inner silence of dealing with death and also the party of it. I'm going to use Stravinsky and Michael Jackson _ Thriller and Stravinsky. I love to have very light moments and very heavy moments.
How do you approach choreography?
I work a lot with when the body is totally empty and fluid _ when you're not trying to dance, when you let go of your mind, how does it look? I'm always asking and checking the limits of how far we can let go of the muscles. I'm working very much with reasons _ why do you move? And this question... brings out very specific material that I can say is Total Brutal.
How does the subject of death inform the choreography of this piece?
Death can be very pathetic onstage. It can be so obvious. So I was working with the non-obvious. I circle further and further away from the cultural symbols of death, but at the same time, I use them as a base.
About the author
- Writer: Amitha Amranand