Part of the Fa-Mi-La

Nima Ja­coby digs into mem­o­ries for her new chil­dren’s dance piece


When she was a girl, Nima Ja­coby would be whisked by her grand­fa­ther through the artists’ en­trance of the Is­rael Phil­har­monic Orches­tra to visit his friends in the orches­tra. She would greet the mu­si­cians, tak­ing lin­ger­ing glances at their in­stru­ments. The vi­ola, which had been her grand­fa­ther’s choice, was the most fa­mil­iar, but over time, Ja­coby came to forge spe­cial re­la­tion­ships with the cello, harp, flute and oboe.

“When I would sit in the au­di­ence af­ter­ward, I would re­mem­ber those mo­ments with the in­stru­ments,” says Ja­coby over the phone.

In her new chil­dren’s dance piece, Fa-Mi-La Fam­ily, Ja­coby digs back into those mem­o­ries with her grand­fa­ther, sem­i­nal Is­raeli com­poser and mu­si­cian Hanoch Ja­coby. In this work, cre­ated by the Bama Dance Group, Ja­coby an­i­mates each in­stru­ment with move­ment and per­son­al­ity. To­gether with her stage part­ner, the for­mi­da­ble In­bar Tanzer, Ja­coby brings the essence of each in­stru­ment to life.

“I felt there was some­thing spe­cial about my ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing the in­stru­ments up close. I used to tell my grand­fa­ther what I imag­ined when I heard the mu­sic. I put each in­stru­ment in the cen­ter. I choose the in­stru­ments and show them ac­cord­ing to their mu­si­cal fam­i­lies. Cel­los tells a story that I imag­ine, winds, strings, drums,” she ex­plains.

To bring her vi­sion to life, Ja­coby called on col­lab­o­ra­tors to cre­ate an aes­thetic lan­guage. Ac­tor, singer and com­poser Is­rael Bright wrote orig­i­nal text to ac­com­pany the move­ment and Svet­lana Livshitz de­vised cos­tumes to trans­form Ja­coby and Tanzer into wood, me­tal and wire.

Ja­coby, 47, a mother of three chil­dren, be­gan her ca­reer as a mem­ber of the Kib­butz Con­tem­po­rary Dance Com­pany be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to Lon­don to pur­sue a mas­ter’s de­gree at the pres­ti­gious La­ban Cen­tre.

“I cre­ated for years for adults,” she says. “I did Cur­tain Up and fes­ti­vals abroad. When my kids were born, I took a break. I had been teach­ing young kids through­out my ca­reer. I saw that I had an abil­ity to reach kids through imag­i­na­tion and play. I found that, in that field, I had a lot of skills and some­thing that was spe­cific to me.”

Since re­turn­ing from her first ma­ter­nity leave 15 years ago, Ja­coby has de­voted her creative pas­sions to en­gi­neer­ing deeply en­gag­ing per­for­mances for young au­di­ences. Her pre­vi­ous works in­clude Boxes and Cin­derella’s Dance. She de­lights in con­sid­er­ing the at­ten­tion span and in­ter­est of her small view­ers, in tweak­ing each pro­duc­tion to suit de­vel­op­ing minds.

She ex­plains that the cre­ation process for chil­dren’s works is more com­plex than one would imag­ine.

“Our process is long be­cause we re­ally test our ma­te­rial. We show it to stu­dents and ask what they think. When the show gets to the stage, af­ter such a long process, it’s pre­cise. Adults can be pa­tient or give the ben­e­fit of the doubt; kids can’t. Our chal­lenge is to take ab­stract art forms of dance and mu­sic and ig­nite the imag­i­na­tion so that the kids will be en­tranced. That’s why it takes so long to get to it. We are look­ing for magic through sim­ple tools.”

The pay­off, in Ja­coby’s eyes, is worth the in­vest­ment. For one thing, chil­dren’s per­for­mances are greatly in de­mand all over the coun­try. If a con­cert piece for adult au­di­ences is per­formed 20 times in a year, that is con­sid­ered a suc­cess. A chil­dren’s pro­duc­tion will run over 100 shows in the same span of time. The other plus is what Ja­coby refers to as “the lack of a dark fourth wall.”

“I no­tice that when I per­form for kids, they’re with us, they re­spond and re­act. They come up af­ter the show, hop onto the stage and hug us. They don’t have the dis­tance that adults do,” she says. “I feel close to the world of chil­dren. Me as a kid and me as a chore­og­ra­pher are con­nected, we are both play­ing.”

Fa-Mi-La Fam­ily will be per­formed on Novem­ber 18 and 19 at the In­bal Dance Theater in the Suzanne Del­lal Cen­ter. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www. in­

(Idan Levi)

NIMA JA­COBY per­forms ‘Fa-Mi-La Fam­ily.’

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