From the Press (selection): 

“What gives it that extra dimension, for me, is Yaron Abulafia’s exceptional lighting design. He makes visible his PhD research into “the poetics and meaning-making of light”. An art installation, defining the content, creating a drama of its own – smoky, mysterious, deathly cold (in tone with Asalia Khadje’s white costumes), then giving warm life to ghostly shades – augments Oguike’s dance form.”

(British Theatre Guide, review by Vera Liber, 2009)

  

Painting with Light – The 1st prize for lighting design of ‘Peer Gynt’

“Recently, at the Bulandra Theater, there was concluded the first contest of light design, ever organized in Romania, for a theater or musical show, the jury – stage director Alexandru Darie, Prof. Univ. Vladimir Şetran, Maria Dana Andrei PR CEZ – selected, in view of the prize, from the twenty-six participations, the artists Yaron Abulafia (the Netherlands), Cosmin Ardeleanu, Andu Dumitrescu, Alina Herescu and Lucian Moga…

          The CEZ Prize with the support of PHILIPS for light-design will be given to the last one, Yaron Abulafia having created in the company of the director David Zinder, of the costume and, respectively, scene designers Carmencita Brojboiu and Miriam Guretzky, photographer – István Biro, a memorable show, where the light embraces the characters, the setting and visually potentiates the moments of the action, unifies dramatically and most of all poetically the Ibsen’s creation. It is a first rate visually binding material, which sustains the aesthetic unity of the show throughout the entire succession of scenes. Because, at the same time very technical and of a rare professionalism, the light-design created by Yaron Abulafia is also poetic at the most, the light commenting incomparably, next to the actors, the complex states of mind of the characters. It is absolutely fantastic how, in a certain moment, the light accompanies, until it becomes one with, Solveig’s (Anikó Pethö) visage, an aureola, a light that is outside, but especially inside. In its chromatic avatars, red, an aether and mysterious blue, a golden yellow, flashes and beans that cut the dark, the light almost seem to caress the characters and dynamically recreates, and in every moment, the visual context of the drama.

The lighting achieves, thanks to Yaron Abulafia’s vision, a unique musicality, expressing emotions as flexible and lyrically as this art, and a capacity of transfiguration that belongs to the cathartic essence of the authentic theater.”

(Ziarul de Duminica in Ziarul Financiar, an essay by Luminiţa Batali, May 9th, 2008, translated from Romanian to English by the author)

 

SUB

by Itzik Galili, Rambert Dance Company (UK)

Review: Rambert Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells

“Unusually for Rambert, this is recorded sound, a sacrifice required by the digitised coding of the lighting against the original recorded score. It is such a rare occurrence that it even merits an apology in the programme. But, the loss of live music is easily compensated by Yaron Abulafia’s absorbing lighting designs, which are integral to the spectacle of Galili’s work; as are Natasja Lansen’sSamurai skirts, giving this magnificent seven an authentic Kurosawa rather than an imitation “wild west” feel!”

(Londondance.com, Graham Watts, May 16th, 2012)

 

Rambert Dance Company: Mixed Bill — a question of perspective

Rambert Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells, Mixed Bill, May 17.

“One thing that can be seen from above is pattern. Fortunately there is plenty of that in Itzik Galili’s SUB and the lighting by Yaron Abulafia is particularly sculptural. SUB starts with an explosion of thunder in the dark. A lone figure dances in a circle of light, naked but for what seems to be a long tutu that adds to the all-male cast’s androgynous look as the lighting blasts the dancers’ skin. (I gather later from a critic who sat in the stalls, that the costume is in fact an army greatcoat worn as a kilt). Adding the relentless pulse of Michael Gordon’s string quartet, Weather One, to the white light and military imagery, the scene is set for a work that is in turn hard-edged, nervy and menacing. These qualities are laid down on each layer of music, choreography and lighting. Indeed, the time coding of the lighting is so intimately linked to a commercial recording of the score that the quartet cannot be played live, giving a sense that SUB has been choreographed in light as much as in movement.

           Abulafia has created shadows on the stage in which a line of dancers will lurk while a duet or trio takes place in the light and the dancers never seem to exit; they glide instead into dark light, giving the work a feeling of constant intense activity. He also forms lines of light in front of the wings, like a lintel (this you wouldn’t see from the stalls, because the lighting designer has the added advantage of working like an architect with a plan). The choreographic structure is closely based on the rhythmic episodes in the music. There are constant juxtapositions of chaos and order, storm and calm, with complex spacing and interweaving that will suddenly transform into a line. The seven men dance for all they are worth, taking risks with their own force and in last-minute catches. The frenetic movement slows into a duet or trio accentuating the lines of the dancers slowly stretching into their shapes while others watch in their line of light at the side of the stage. The quiet is shattered by another explosion of energy, a frenetic movement that resolves in a line of dancers across the front of the stage watching a solo that has the feel of an interrogation under blinding light. Now we see the posse of men break out into seven wild solos that build in intensity until it re-forms with all seven jumping in unison to the rhythm of the music, reducing the evocative strings to a pounding, ominous pulse. Six men line up on the front of the stage, now facing the audience like a line of security guards, while the movements of a single dancer behind them fade in the dying of the light and the music.”

(Writing About Dance, Nicholas Minns, June 2nd, 2012)

 

Butterfly Dreaming

by Henri Oguike (UK)

Henri Oguike Dance Company – review

The Royal Opera House  – The Linbury Theatre, London

“Henri Oguike has always been brave in his musical choices, but with one of his latest works, Butterfly Dreaming, he displays a streak of wildness.

Tan Dun’s score, Ghost Opera, of which Oguike uses four movements, develops one silvery thread of Chinese music through an astounding funfair of styles: from jagged bursts of atonal singing, to frenetic folksy strings, to musical haikus in the manner of late Stravinsky. Its effect is lyrical, comic and violently surprising, and it inspires Oguike to one of the strangest, and at times, one of the most beautiful, works of his career.

          His title is taken from a story about a man who dreams he is a butterfly. And on a darkly shadowed stage, it’s that confusion of forms and identity that Oguike evokes. Stephanie Hodgson, a dancer of phenomenal suppleness, folds and angles her body to create the illusion of wings, her limbs torquing into weirdly insectoid forms. Josef Perou, convulsed by dreams, is drawn slowly into her space, and some of the work’s most arresting moments are the duets in which the two of them press and entwine as if trying imprint their bodies on each other.

Despite occasional dips in choreography, the fantasy is compelling, and it’s amplified by the lighting of Yaron Abulafia – a minimal but poetic installation suggesting a canopy of stars.

          Abulafia’s lighting also dominates the piece Freq. For its first minutes, Oguike seems infatuated – misguidedly – by technology. A fierce cascade of water pours over dancer Elena Zaino, allowing her to do little but shuffle her feet in time to the music (by Brian Eno and David Byrne). Yet suddenly the choreography is ramped up to a heroic scale, and everything transforms. The water bounces dramatically off Zaino’s body, creating halos, patterns and plumes of spray and, lit from the back, she seems to dissolve into a shimmer of water and light. The effect becomes more hallucinatory when a powerful strobe splinters everything into glittering pixels.”

(The Guardian, Judith Mackrell, March 9th, 2011)

 

Eden

by Jonathan Goddard & Gemma Nixon (UK)

Company Chameleon: Pictures We Make – The Lowry, Salford

“Eden, created by Gemma Nixon and Jonathan Goddard is an exquisite piece of work. Billed as ‘a powerful and poetic exploration of an internal world’, Eden is precise, detailed, intelligent and full of considered, intense tenderness. The choreography takes the close working relationship between Missen and Turner and the distinctive choreographic language they have developed between them, flawlessly adds the two new performers and creates a work that is powerful, meditative, and looks exactly like Company Chameleon should look, whilst taking them to a satisfying new level. This sense of seeing something beautiful and new and full of quiet confidence and optimism is heightened by an atmospheric and finely textured soundtrack featuring new original music by John Matthias and Andrew Prior, and the show is made intensely beautiful by the imaginative and sophisticated lighting design of Yaron Abfulafia, which plays with every colour of darkness from dusty greys to smoky amber, contrasted with precisely targeted pools and lines of illumination. Fabrice Serafino’s simple costumes create an unfussy sense of elegant normality and timelessness.”

(The Public Reviews, Peter Jacobs, February 14th, 2013)

 

And the Earth Shall Bear Again

by Itzik Galili, The English National Ballet (UK)

Dance GB: Olympic fever

“Outgoing artistic director of English National Ballet, Wayne Eagling, intended to make Galili’s work the final offering on the program, as performed in Theatre Royal, Glasgow and Cardiff’s Wales Millenium Centre, but for technical reasons here in the tent it has been put first. Reading in the program how Galili uses light as a choreographic tool, I wonder where the lighting is going to come from as I don’t see any sophisticated lighting rig in the tent and there is evidently no fly tower. When the curtain slides open, the mystery is solved: designer Yaron Abulafia’s rig is an integral part of the stage design, some of the more sculptural elements being in plain view. I can see why you wouldn’t want to be setting this up during an intermission.

          The stage is filled with atmospheric fog and we are immediately drawn into the murky darkness. What Abulafia has created is remarkable: a theatrical black hole from which dancers emerge into the light, or recede into latency at the will of the lighting designer and choreographer. As our eyes search for familiar form, we see the back of a dancer, too indistinct to know if it is male or female. This figure backs towards us into the diffused, triangular downlight, one fifth position at a time, the feet as closely spaced as the keys on a piano. The costume (designed by Natasja Lansen) is androgynous, worn by both male and female dancers: a black, transparent, sleeveless, net jerkin with its hem barely covering the buttocks. Legs and arms are bare, and reflect the light, while the torso absorbs it.

          The figure emerging from the mist is Esteban Berlanga. On the first brutally amplified note of Cage’s score, a girl walks across downstage from right to left. A line of dancers cross in the other direction, like a keyboard advancing across the stage, leaving a dancer in the centre with Berlanga, duplicating his movement. The line returns, sweeping away the first dancer and leaving another in her place. Others arrive; there are six on stage who are then joined by another twelve to complete the full complement of eighteen. The percussive nature of the score lends itself to fierce physicality and staccato movement. On two consecutive notes a girl jumps and is caught in the boy’s arms, like two pieces of a puzzle locking together, a movement repeated five times with five other couples. The limbs, because they reflect the light and are used in exaggerated extension, are the principal elements of the dance. Faces are not revealed as clearly, adding to the effect of a gesticulating forest of limbs emanating from mobile trunks. The girls are on point, accentuating the already attenuated lines. The movement is predominantly linear, launched in all directions, so when Nancy Osbaldeston pulls off a beautifully controlled multiple turn, sculpted to perfection in the light, its spiral form takes the breath away. If there is a sense of the title in the movement, it is this emergence of form from chaos.”

(Writing About Dance, Nicholas Minns, July 19th, 2012)