Dance Up Close to Lee Sher and Saar Harari of LeeSaar The Company
Behind the Scenes with LeeSaar as the prepare "Grass and Jackals" for The Joyce
at The Joyce Theater on February 8th at 8pm and February 9th at 2 and 7:30 pm Tickets start at $10!
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Approximate Running Time
55 minutes (no intermission)
If you are a contemporary dance fan, you may know Lee Sher and Saar Harari as the creative force behind LeeSaar The Company. The two Israeli choreographers came to New York City in 2000, and over the next few years, created a small international troupe noted for its fierce stage presence, technical facility and ripe emotion. In short order, the accolades and commissions started pouring in: strong critical mentions from The New York Times, Dance View Times, Culturbot and The New Yorker; grants and fellowships (one being a Guggenheim in 2008); commissions (from the prestigious American Dance Festival in Durham, for example) and a Bessie (dance’s version of the Academy Awards) nomination for “Fame” in 2012.
About Grass and Jackals- The Inspirations, It's Growth and Collaboration with Lighting Designer "Bambi"
What you may not know about Sher and Harari is that they love to riff off one another in conversation, and could possibly be confused for a comedy team as they affectionately interrupt, overtake, and laugh at each other’s foibles. Sher and Harari are married; have been together 18 years; are the parents to two young boys, ages five and 9 months; and, are “still in love.” Sher, the actress of the duo, announces this fact playfully, making a funny face in my direction as she does so. (This interviewer is not exempt from being teased by this pair.) Harari chuckles.
“Is it difficult to have a family and dance,” I ask?
Sher acknowledges, “It’s very different for us as Israelis. In Israel the community is very strong and the people around you, the neighbors, everyone, is like a big family. You don’t feel alone. Here you can be very alone all the time.
Harari chimes in, “Yes, I think everyone in New York is lonely to some extent. But, there is also a good side to that. Here work gives us life.”
Sher nods, “You can really become an artist here.”
Working Together as a Couple and Company... Listening and Finding
The company rehearses daily in the basketball court/basement gym of Congregation Beth Elohim, a synagogue in Park Slope. “It is our home base, says Harari, appreciating the groups’ good fortune at having a workplace to call their own (especially when most small New York City dance companies operate nomadically.) “But it’s not just a space, the people support us, they listen to us and are interested in what we have to say.” And importantly, “It’s almost like being in a theater.”
The court, much larger than a traditional dance studio, gives the directing artists the opportunity to view their work with perspective instead of being caught in the middle of it. While the dancers rehearse on home court (or the stage) , the choreographers occupy the visitors court, moving in and out to examine and tinker.
LeeSaar The Company: The Dancers
While honors and achievements have been important to the development of LeeSaar, what holds the company together is the people. “The investment we have in our dancers is a big key in our work. Much of our energy goes there,” says Harari.
Sher agrees. “ We don’t know how to work on projects, to find a person to work with (for a short time) and say ‘goodbye’ very dull.”
Another notable LeeSaar fact, pointed out by Sher, is that all the dancers of LeeSaar are women. This is not by accident. “We fell in love with this idea of just working with women; it’s very strong and interesting. Women are full - full with things to say. We look for women who are very brave and have many layers to offer as dancers. “
"If people like dance,” Sher emphasizes, “they should come to The Joyce. If they want to find beauty on stage that is the place. There is lots beauty. And beauty can be so many things. The dancers are beautiful, powerful, and so exposed and brave out there. We hope that the work can touch people in a brave way.”
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*Bonus Video: Lee Sher On Why She Does Not Like to Dance.