Choreographer Idan Cohen savours kindness in seeking out artistic collaborators

The founder of Ne. Sans Opera & Dance will present four solos on March 1 as part of the Dance Centre's Discover Dance! series

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      Vancouver choreographer Idan Cohen not only has a love of dance, he also relishes its marriage with memorable music in emotionally charged yet precisely arranged productions.

      The founder of Ne. Sans Opera & Dance company even made the pianist a character in Hourglass, his exploration of codependency that premiered at the Chutzpah! Festival in 2020, accompanied by four Philip Glass piano études.

      That pianist, Vancouver Bach Choir music director Leslie Dala, has been one of Cohen’s longtime musical collaborators.

      “We are now working on Hourglass as a full-length evening of the all 20 études [by Glass], and that would premiere in the next Chutzpah! Festival in November 2022,” Cohen reveals in a phone interview with the Straight before a rehearsal.

      They also collaborated on Orfeo ed Euridice, a Vancouver Opera production that premiered last month at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Dala is also chorus director of Vancouver Opera.

      “Les is really one of the most genuine, kindest people I know, besides…being a great musician and a great collaborator,” Cohen says. “We can share ideas or notions coming from very different worlds and then find a common ground that is very fertile and creative.”

      On March 1, Cohen and Dala will be back together again as part of the Dance Centre’s Discover Dance! series, along with countertenor Shane Hanson and dancers Ted Littlemore, Will Jessup, and Benjamin DeFaria. The event will follow all COVID-19 protocols in accordance with provincial health orders.

      Cohen says that it’s important to him to work with “kind and genuine people” because the life of an artist involves sharing ideas and exposing things that are sometimes very intimate.

      “You want to surround yourself with people who get that, with people who appreciate that,” Cohen emphasizes, “and are not just there for different reasons but they are there to go through their own experience and to learn and expand our horizons and our limits—both in an artistic and personal way.”

      Idan Cohen founded Ne. Sans in Vancouver in 2017 after a successful career as a dance artist in Israel.
      Ne. Sans

      In the upcoming show, the three dancers will perform four solos from Cohen’s works set to music by George Frideric Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Glass. The Handel piece will be sung by Hanson.

      Two of these solos will be newer creations from the extended version of Hourglass that is in development.

      “I’m still working in the studio these days,” Cohen explains. “So it will be almost like a world premiere of the two solo piano études by Philip Glass. I’m very excited for that.”

      The other two solos will be from Solo for Orpheus, which premiered at the 2021 Chutzpah! Festival.

      Cohen emphasizes that all four are solos when you think of them strictly as dance performances. However, he describes them as actually being duets or a trio when they’re viewed as marriages with what Dala and Hanson will bring to the presentations.

      “Les is on-stage and Shane is part of the choreography, in that sense,” Cohen says. “The musicians on-stage always have a certain presence in the work that we stage at Ne. Sans.”