The code for love

F or the dance community of Sofia, Bulgaria, 2018 has been a huge year already. Having recently hosted the prestigious, nomadic dance festival Spring Forward by British organization Aerowaves, Sofia has enjoyed more dance activity per meter than most cities around the world in the last month. In addition, the city has become a hub for independent choreographers, hosting residencies and performances in various venues. Much of these events have ties to the Derida Dance Center, a 500-square meter facility in central Sofia. The first contemporary dance hub in Bulgaria, Derida Dance Center is home to Derida Dance Company, as well as the Dance PORT Derida training program, all overseen by co-founder and artistic director Atanas Maev.

Maev is a fan of Israeli dance and has invested previously in the local dance scene, attending the Suzanne Dellal Center’s International Exposure, collaborating with Machol Shalem Dance House on co-productions and has hosted several Israeli choreographers at Derida Dance Center in recent years.

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This month, Maev will return to Israel for Derida Dance Company’s first visit with the duet titled F63.9 by Bulgarian choreographer and Maev’s partner in founding Derida Dance Center, Jivko Jeliazkov. The company will perform at the Karnaf Hall in Jerusalem in collaboration with Machol Shalem Dance House, and then at the Inbal Theater in Tel Aviv.

F63.9 is the World Health Organization’s register number for a mental illness that involves lack of impulse control, otherwise known as love. As the choreographers writes, “When this ‘problem’ appears, several possibilities are simultaneously revealed – (auto)transformation, cleansing of the id and connecting to the other person. At same time, there is a probability of aggression and physical elimination of the threat. The desire to run away from the other, while being attracted to them, follows the rhythm of a dynamic and unpredictable dance. Searching and finding oneself through love is linked to the troubling need to share the pain of the present and overcome the past. Is love capable of taking an angelical mission, a sacrifice, in order to disarm and transform angst? Or is it simply a virus that undermines the body and the mind? F63.9 seeks to answer these questions though a psycho-physical examination of love as a form of destruction and transformation.”

In this duet, Jeliazkov addresses love not as a sought-after emotional endeavor but rather as a means for coming apart at one’s seams. Performed by Simona Todorova and Yasen Popov, F63.9 is far from a classic romantic duet. The movement is manic at times, wrought with tension and stress at others and, in brief moments, tender. The piece was selected as one of Aerowaves’ top 20 works from Europe in 2018, a most coveted title for any dance piece.

Like Maev, Jeliazkov is one of the pioneers and key voices in Bulgarian contemporary dance. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Jeliazkov began his career as an actor. Having completed his degree in theater studies, Jeliazkov relocated to Australia, where he took up dancing on a professional level. Upon returning to Sofia, he co-founded Derida Dance Company and Derida Dance Center with Maev. He has created multiple works for the company and has served as the artistic director of the Dance PORT Derida program.

Derida Dance Company will share the Tel Aviv bill with local choreographer Nimrod Freed/Tami Dance Company’s Tennis True Story . In this work, Freed breaks down the popular sport into mechanical, pedantic movements. Using discernible props from the athletic world, Freed establishes the tennis player as a neurotic and obsessive creature, alone on green Astroturf, fighting tooth and nail for her win.

The piece is performed by Noa Shavit, Asami Ida and Itzik Gabai. The Jerusalem performance will include Dancing from Others by Lilach Orenstein.

‘F63.9’ will be performed on May 17 at 8 p.m. at Karnaf Hall in Jerusalem (www.macholshalem.org.il) and on May 18 at the Inbal Theater in Tel Aviv (www.smarticket.co.il).