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In 2016, Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance company crossed their 25-year mark. To celebrate, the company returns to Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a 25th anniversary program featuring choice selections from their repertory. It’s a retrospective look at the development of artistic director Ronen Koresh’s style and creative voice.
While the show is mostly drawn from past works, the tour’s showpiece is a new one: a Mozart-inspired collaboration between Koresh and artist/musician Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky. For the project, Spooky and Koresh deconstructed and transformed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, turning the original 5-minute segment into a layered 27-minute soundtrack for a dance composition.
A few weeks ago, we had the chance to speak with the Israeli native about his life and work thus far.
Have you evolved a particular style over the years?
Absolutely. I think every artist goes through his or her own evolution through time. There are many reasons why an artist develops or changes. For me personally, when I started, the choreography had to be to some degree accessible and we had to make a statement to even be noticed. So you kind of shout out to the world. And later on, once you are being noticed, you start focusing on more of an internal voice.
Are there any topics that have come to the surface as important to you?
Yeah, for me personally, it’s relationships between people, relationships between individuals, individuals to community, community to the individual. That’s important to me. People—there’s so much there, people are so complex. There’s material there to explore for many lifetimes.
How do you see your role in the Philadelphia community?
As a child, dance pretty much guided me through my life. I felt I belonged, I felt that I had something special. I felt unique.And it gave me a reason to focus all my energy in a way that is good, that is beneficial, that is inspiring. So that being said, I find that my role is now to be the one that is doing it for others, trying to create a place for young people and older people to develop their talents, to inspire them, and to create an environment that doesn’t only focus on financial wealth whereby our spirits are dying.
How was your collaboration with DJ Spooky?
It was very interesting because he comes from an age of technology, he’s a DJ so he deals with a lot with gadgets and laptops, texting and emails and such. I’m the opposite, I’m old school. I like to speak with somebody, I’m a hands-on kind of person. So it was very interesting to see how technology meets raw passion so to speak.
His brain and my brain are completely different. I’m more of a visual person. And his thing is, he works with beats and it’s almost mathematical. So I was very curious to see what he was coming up with. We created a lot of music from five minutes of Mozart.
What originally got you excited about dance? Was it more street and club stuff or was it more classical training?
No, of course it was street and clubs. Dance for me… it created a sense of self. When people paid attention to me because I could dance in a party or a club or whatever, I felt important. I didn’t know that was just one dimension of using the power of dance or any kind of talent, being noticed. The first thing you want to be is noticed as young people. You don’t want to be ignored. You want to feel like you’re special.
But when I started taking dance classes, it changed everything. Dancers that are so technically proficient and efficient, you go wow, okay maybe I can dance but I’d like to be very clear in what I’m doing. So I decided to develop it.
I was going from one school to another and eventually ended up with Batsheva Dance Company, the second company. We were the first generation of the second company of Batsheva in Israel. I was 17 or 18. You know we had to serve in the military. I was dancing all through the service because they recognized my talent. I decided to come to the United States to study with Alvin Ailey, me and a couple friends, and never went back.
What a cool story!
I’m telling it to you in a very short way but it’s a very interesting story, even how to survive in the United States with $500. But when you work hard and you have talent, you start getting noticed. If you make the right choices and you follow your heart completely without swaying from it. I never swayed from what I was doing. I did what I wanted and that was it. Nothing else mattered, how hard it got or how painful it got or how great it got. So yeah, I think the key ingredients are perseverance and patience.
Koresh Dance Company, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Carnival Studio, Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; tickets $50; www.arshtcenter.org . Post-show conversation with DJ Spooky, Ronen Koresh and company, Friday, immediately following the March 18th performance.
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