Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Dec 19th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Peace in the Middle East

ae1 MariaBasileNew dance-concert explores Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Inspired by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, local choreographer Karl Schaffer’s “Mosaic” is a dance-concert featuring Jewish Diaspora and Arab music from the women’s choral group Zambra, singer Fattah Abbou and a troupe of local dancers. In between rehearsals for the show, which runs June 21-22 at Motion Pacific, Schaffer shared the story behind its creation.

Good Times: Why do you think it’s important to examine people's feelings on the Middle East?

Karl Schaffer: Well, It's been central to the wars the U.S. has been involved in for the last 10 years. I also feel I have a kind of special connection and a responsibility as somebody brought up and raised Jewish to speak about injustices that I see in Israel's treatment of Palestinians. … I think the U.S. spends more money on the military (and) war than any other country. That's our tax money—we're paying for it and I don’t agree, and I feel I should say something about it—and the way I say something tends to be through dance.

How does “Mosaic” unfold onstage?

It's composed of a variety of pieces, with different modes of performance—different emotional modes.  Some are fairly stark, some are really about reconciliation and joining together, some maybe even a little depressing, some the opposite. But there’s a variety.

How do your childhood experiences of growing up Jewish in Birmingham, Ala. during the Civil Rights Movement relate to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and this production?

Even though I lived in a white suburb, anyone that lived there is close to the events of that time including the extreme violence of the Ku Klux Klan—murders, bombings and so on. For example, someone who cleaned house for my parents had daughters who were friends with the four girls killed in the church bombing. So you were never far removed from these events. Drive through town and you'd see where the explosions had been, or see demonstrations …

It always appeared to me that the anti-Semitism was so much milder than the racism—white versus black—and so that affected me a great deal. And I make connections between the discrimination faced by African American people in the South when I was growing up and the situation of Palestinians in the occupied territories. I see connections there. For example … African Americans couldn't sit except in the back of the bus, and in the occupied territories there are separate bus systems for Palestinians and Israelis. Some of the parallels are quite striking.

One segment of “Mosaic” is about two dancers in a bar …

(Laughs) It’s the start of a joke: A Palestinian and Israeli go into a bar … and what we did for that piece is we scoured the Internet for jokes that Israelis and Palestinians tell about themselves. I feel there's a commonality, a way of making fun of themselves that you ae-2Local dancers tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in “Mosaic,” a new performance piece which will debut at Motion Pacific this weekend.find in jokes that both sides tell.  And I think that's very revealing and it also can be funny and make you think about it at the same time. And I like using humor in that way … so the scenario is kind of about two characters, who are maybe comedians, who are arguing about the jokes they tell.

I think people in the U.S. are somewhat familiar with what might be called Jewish humor, but Palestinian humor I think is very similar. With both groups you … find a kind of making-fun, in the kind of helpless, Woody Allen, schlemiel sense of making fun of themselves. To me, it shows a kind of commonality and it's helpful to analyze the jokes, but it's sort of fun to listen to them. … You can think about what it is you’re really laughing at and why it is you're laughing—and that can be very revealing.

How do Islamic mathematics fit into the show?

In Islamic or Arab culture, tilings—which are a popular part of the art in that culture—the tiling takes a visual and repeats it … in many directions, and puts together patterns. And the Islamic artists and mathematicians developed the ideas behind tilings quite extensively. … M.C. Escher used tessellations, or tilings, and he began his work with tiling by going to the Alhambra in Spain, which is a huge extensive palace where the walls are covered with these Islamic tilings. … So there are different aspects of various cultures that we bring up. There's more Israeli folk singing in a sense because many of Zambra’s songs are what they call songs from the Jewish Diaspora … but many of the visuals represent the Islamic tilings.

You’ve integrated a lot of diverse elements into “mosaic.” Is that a metaphor?

Yes. They can all work together—not only work together, but in some sense belong together. So there's that larger point of view that you can take, that all of us from whatever culture or background are part of the same world and can make beautiful things together.

“Mosaic” is aimed at a Santa Cruz audience, but is it something that would appeal to Israelis and palestinians alike?

I think so. I think the one piece where there is a very clear political point of view is my solo … I don't like to put the words into the mouths of other dancers or performers. If I have something personal to say, I'll say it. I think it will be interesting and informative. I think people would get something out of it no matter where they're from.

What can we learn from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Islam, Judaism and Christianity all stem from the same philosophical historical roots—they're close. The peoples of that area used to live together much more easily than right now and can again—and to me, it seems natural that they would.

What is the message at the heart of “Mosaic”?

War and conflict [are] horrible, but people can come to terms with it and bring about peace. … I think that peace and justice with Palestine and Israel is possible. 


‘Mosaic’ runs June 21-22 at Motion Pacific, 131 Front St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15/adv, $18/door with discounts for students and seniors. Seating is limited. Visit motionpacific.com for tickets or movespeakspin.org for more information.

Photos: Steve Dibartolomeo

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire