The Jewish Connection Project

Lisi Estaras and Ido Batash first met in 2012 during the process of creating Alain Platel’s production C(H)OEURS. They soon sensed a close kinship in their approach to movement. They both have a penchant for agitated movements consisting of a succession of impulses that are each broken off so as to spring in a different direction, at a new tangent. This is the essence of the ‘monkey mind’-method after which the company is named: it is the endless chattering in your head when you jump from one thought to the next as a monkey does from tree to tree. Their foundations are instinctive movements and the stream of thoughts.

Whilst working together in the studio, Lisi and Ido were sometimes jokingly called ‘the Jewish connection’. This led them to ask ‘is there any such connection?’ and ‘where does our kinship come from?’ The result was that they felt a desire to question their personal contradictory and ambiguous feelings towards their Jewish identity. To delve more deeply, they assembled a group of Jewish dancers from Israel and elsewhere. And they felt strengthened in their quest for a local connection: where are the Jews to be found in each of the places where the production is performed? Who are they? And are they prepared to join the dancers onstage?

During the creation of C(H)OEURS, Lisi and Ido did not only meet each other, but also became acquainted with the music of Wagner. Dancing to Wagner was a confusing experience, in part probably because of his open antisemitism, but mainly because of the way he was later used for Nazi propaganda. This has meant that Wagner’s music cannot be played in Israel. Lisi and Ido make play of this unofficial ban. Only last year, an Israeli radio station had to apologise for playing an extract from Gotterdämmerung. Should one separate the man from the music?

And lastly there is also the question of how deeply one should cherish an identity. What is collectivity worth if it is at other people’s expense? Or if it is denied to others? Who belongs and who does not? And what are the true motives for exclusion? Or are we in the end still just creatures looking to procreate? And which formula will win, the biological or the cultural? These are some of a whole range of questions that were thrown up during the creative process, though they were not all given answers that pointed in the same direction. As the saying goes: ‘two Jews, three opinions’. There must be some truth in it.

concept and choreography Lisi Estaras and Ido Batash dance Yohan Vallée, Tamar Honig, Avidan Ben Giat, Ido Batash, Lara Barsacq/Lisi Estaras soprano Maribeth Diggle Music Richard Wagner Soundscape Ido Batash and Bart Uyttersprot dramaturgy Hildegard De Vuyst costumes Nicole Petit light Design Helmut Van Den Meersschaut production MonkeyMind Company developed within the frame of Co-laBo/les ballets C de la B and in collaboration with CAMPO Gent

With the support of the Flemish Government and the City of Ghent. Special thanks to De Grote Post Oostende, les ballets C de la B/Alain Platel Gent & MASH Dance House Jerusalem

Première 14/02/2019, CAMPO Nieuwpoort Gent, B


 Lisi Estaras questions complex issues of our era through her signature dance vocabulary, and present a grim reality of incredible emotional impact with astonishing expressiveness, always trying to find a balance between fragility, uncertainty and hope. The Jewish Connection Project is audacious and weirdly wonderful
(Reviewed at Operaestate festival, 23/08/2018)