Keren Rosenberg (Israel, 1978) is a performer, choreographer and movement researcher from Amsterdam. With her artistic voice, she expresses a physical and social political view on the body and the environment in which it functions. She creates experiences between nightclub and stage, between rock concert and exhibition space. Keren has performed her work at home and abroad and was artist in residence at Dansmakers Amsterdam, supported by the Nieuwe Makersregeling, Fonds Podiumkunsten. This trajectory continues within ICK Artist Space. We visited Keren in the studio, where she is rehearsing her works Resurface and Margela for Moving Futures Festival 2022, to ask her some questions.
You describe Margela as a performative novel, could you tell us about why you use this term?
This came from an external necessity. We were in a Covid period and I realized that the world at that moment was being completely transformed. At the same time, I was just granted the Nieuwe Makers grant for several projects, and it felt like everything was being tanked underwater. I made the conscious decision to stop and reassess where am I heading and how I can I create a new trajectory or journey that can bring interesting new discoveries. Also, I was wondering how I could create process-based journeys rather than product based. In other words: granting time to development. Going Primal was supposed to be one of the projects that I was granted a Nieuwe Makers funds for, where initially I wanted for dancers and one guitarist to create an epic wall of sound, and to make sound visible. But in the end, Going Primal ended up being a way to strip away all of the social skins and discover what is underneath. I found out that I wanted to discover how our ancestorial body would move like, a body before being contained by social norms. The feeling of being completely free, a body in nature without barriers. The idea of a novel was thinking about how I could create different experiences that are drawn from that source. Also, I was wondering how I could create different chapters that I can still move and create regardless of the outside situation that was Covid. What I am making is not a performance, it is me inviting the audience into my space, a reciprocal space, and I try to define a new experience in each chapter.
In the first chapter, Resurface, you are surrounded by shamanistic sculptures. What does shamanism mean to you? How did you get interested in it?
It became a part of me as a human being. I have never really felt that I danced, I have always felt that I moved intuitively. Counting was never something I did, I have always been able to see sounds around me, I see the vibrations travel in space, so that’s what I base my work on. I went into my own process of healing and expanding what was beneath my surface. I realized that I needed to dissolve into a dancing body. I open my body and allow it to be accommodated. I realized that I feel the most connected to the universe when I allow meta-forces to control my body. My mission is to get out of my body’s way and allow it to speak. Shamanism connects the physical, the spiritual, the material and the emotional realm and enables me to get into this state of my body.
What does the word “Primal” mean to you? Do you think primality could be lost over time or is it dormantly living in our bodies?
It is in every breath we take. The fact that this question is being asked is great, because it is exactly what I want my audience to ask themselves; What does primality mean to me? And what does it mean to us as a society? I felt that that was also the reason that I needed to lose my clothes in a lot of my works, because I needed to delayer the expectations that I have placed on myself through years of habitual existence, as a woman, as someone of Jewish descent, with all the transgenerational imprints, as an Israeli, as someone in her early forties. I felt like I needed to find the source of my vitality, which for me is in nature, with my clothes off, connecting with the miracle of our existence.
Is there something universal you want audiences (from for example: Moving Futures) to take with them when they experience your work?
That would have to be: Presence, love and connection. And power! Raw power! Power of our own vitality.
People who watch my work always come out with a different experience, which is because they all come in with preconceived notions. They project their own feelings onto my body, so every audience member will feel something different, based on how they experience life.
Could you tell us a bit more about Body House?
It consists of two words: “body” and “house”, which already tell us to approach the body as a lived-in entity. Our being is channeled through this body. Sometimes our body is a home, but sometimes it also is a lot of unfamiliar territory. We explore what the functionality of our body is, where we live under our skin, but how do we transcend our being from our skin? It is quite an extensive exploration, and approaches to body as something that is inhabited, where the skin mediates between the inside and outside world. It explores how we share ourselves with the world, through our voices, through eye contact, through movement, and how our we are mindful of where our energy resides in our body, searching for where we encounter blockades. We do this through breathwork and mapping energy flows within our body, opening doors in our “house”. We explore our lust, our passion, our intuition, our drive. So Body House really is a mix of many influences and information that I gathered from psychology, esoteric worlds and many years of dance experience, and connecting to the “meta”, what is beyond our body.