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Saar Magal

Saar Magal

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2016/17

Saar Magal is a choreographer and director who creates dance theater and opera performances, and collaborates with dancers, actors, singers, scholars, visual artists and musicians. Her work strives to enable the convergence of artists, audience, objects and materials on stage to create new contexts and territories for movement and narrative.

Among Magal’s latest creations are: Jephta’s Daughter, based on the story of Jephta and his nameless daughter from the Old Testament, and on the oratorio by Giacommo Carissimi, comissioned by the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich and first performed in July 2015; Hacking Wagner, which aims to interact with the Wagnerian monumentalism prevalent both on the German and the Israeli side, and debates the Wagner Ban through a field of personal associations and a strain of collective subconsciousness pertaining to the Wagner issue. The piece was commissioned by the Bayerische Staatsoper and premiered in July 2012 at the Haus der Kunst in Munich; Up Your Ass, Virginia! The Valerie Solanas Project, based on Valerie Solanas’ ‘SCUM Manifesto’ and her play ‘Up Your Ass’, which premiered at the Rote Fabrik in Zürich in May 2014.

Together with her colleague Jochen Roller, Magal created and performed the evening-length duet Basically I Don't But Actually I Do, which examines how their contemporary perceptions are influenced by phantoms of memory as children of the third generation and grandchildren of both perpetrators and victims. The piece was produced at Kampnagel in Hamburg in 2009 and invited to Berlin, Munich, Tel Aviv, Berne and Melbourne.

As a choreographer, Magal has collaborated on numerous theater and opera productions at institutions such as: Opéra National de Paris, La Monnaie Brussels, Teatro Real Madrid, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris, National Opera Warsaw, HAU Berlin, Piccolo Teatro di Milano, ART Cambridge, Capitol Musical Theater Wrocław, Mxat Theater Moscow, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Schauspielhaus Hannover, Habima National Theater, Kameri Theater Tel Aviv, Theater For A New Audience NYC and Toneelgroep Amsterdam.

Saar Magal was born in Israel. She studied at Thelma Yalin Arts High School in Tel Aviv and at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London, for which she was awarded a full scholarship by the British Council. She created several pieces for the Batsheva Ensemble Dance Company. She also created dance performances at the Suzanne Dellal Center Tel Aviv, Laban Center London, Stazione Leopolda Florence, Peridance NYC, Bat Dor Dance Company Tel Aviv, Hazira - Performance Art Arena Jerusalem and at the Lincoln Center in NYC. 

As a teacher for physical theater, contemporary dance, improvisation and dance composition, she has taught at the ART Institute for Advanced Theatre at Harvard University, University of Chicago, Peridance Scholarship Program NYC, Bat Dor Studios of Dance, The Maslool Dance Program Tel Aviv, and at The School of Visual Theater in Jerusalem, among others. 

Research Project

Extinction / I’m Still Here: Performing Ecologies of the Future

My research is dedicated to creating a performance piece. Along the path of exploring processes of extinction as a physical, political, ecological, social and cultural phenomenon, I am interested in intentionally bringing together what might appear to be widely divergent source materials. Among them: recent work in cosmology; writings concerning the notion of the “post-human”; literature dealing with the limits of human life, transmutation and metamorphosis; survivor literature; ancient myths and prophecies concerning end times; Dante’s Divine Comedy, etc.

Ultimately, the purpose of this research is to generate a constellation of images, narratives, movements, sounds and sensations that will allow the audience to think and feel their way to the edges of what now constitutes the measure of the human. The notion of the “Anthropocene” has forced us to consider a radically new kind of temporality, one in which human history and geological time converge. How can this convergence be taken in by embodied subjects? How can it be mediated so that it gets under our individual and collective skins? How can the prospect of our own extinction as a species be brought into the now, into the texture of lived experience? Become an object of our own experience? How can this most abstract—and “impossible”—of possibilities be made concrete, palpable, urgent? Performance, especially dance and theater, live and involving the audience, can transform “theoretical” emergencies into lived urgency and form a way of waking up to our own dreams.

Recommended Reading

  • Yuval Noah Harari, “The History of Tomorrow”,Israel: Kinnneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir - Publishing House Ltd., 2015.
  • Catherine Malabou, “Ontology of the Accident: An Essay on Destructive Plasticity”, translated by Carolyn Shread. First published in French as “Ontologie de l’accident”, Éditions Léo Scheer, 2009. The English edition was published by Polity Press, United Kingdom, 2012.
  • Norman Cohn, “Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith”, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993.
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung