Dancing around the world with Shani Peretz
Shani is an Israeli-born dancer. In 2006, she started her training in the Thelma-Yellin High School of the Arts. In 2010, she joined the Israel Ballet and, four years later, went on to join the Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND), under the artistic direction of José Carlos Martínez. In September 2019, she rose to soloist category under the artistic direction of Joaquín De Luz.
Good morning Shani! How are you? And a very happy birthday.
Thank you! I’m very well, thank you!
Shani, why do you dance?
Dance makes me happy. It is something that fills me. In a way, I feel it is dance that chose me. I had only really done folk dance but my teachers egged me on and so I signed up for an audition at Israel’s most prestigious art school. I did the audition without having any idea of ballet and I somehow got through. And that’s where it all started.
You trained and developed for many years doing classical ballet. When did contemporary dance arrive in your life and how do you feel it has marked your career?
Contemporary dance arrived in my life at the same time as ballet, at 14. For me, both styles have always gone hand in hand. On performing contemporary live, I try to challenge myself, remove layers, to express what I feel and project my personality without judgement. It a constant learning process. At this current stage in my career, neoclassical and contemporary dance carry more weight.
What does the world of dance mean to you, beyond a job?
Dance is a big part of me. It means many sacrifices but many more rewards. Sure, there are the pains, the tiredness and a tear or two, but what dance brings to my everyday life makes it all worthwhile. Feeling the applause from the audience, the pre-stage nerves, sharing the stage with friends, the dressing room laughs, the wine after the show, the music in the hall, travelling the world… It’s all so gratifying!
You’ve danced in different places and with different professionals. What most sticks out in your mind and why?
In 2018, I took part in The show must go on, by Jerome Bel, involving five of us from the Company as dancers and 15 others who were not dancers. It was not your typical choreography. There were older people with Down Syndrome, a woman with paralysis … A very diverse group of people, with everybody dancing in the same choreography but in very different ways. Sharing the stage and seeing how these people were feeling dance really left a deep mark. It was wonderful. I still smile when I think about it. It was wonderful. I still smile when I think about it.
You are Israeli. Do you see a difference between Israelis and Spanish people in the way they move?
I don’t think nationality comes into it. For me, each dancer is a world unto themself. They express themselves and move differently beyond their religion or where they’re from.
What was it like for you making the decision to leave Israel?
It was at a time when I was in a rut and uninspired. I’d lost the passion of dance and needed a change in my life. But thanks to Erez Ilan—my friend and fellow dancer in the Company, who cajoled me into auditioning for the CND—I came to Madrid and the change was so great that I fell in love with dance all over again.
If you could bring three more things that wouldn’t fit in your suitcase when you came to Spain, what would they be?
My family, my dog Sendy and the Tel Aviv beach.
Apart from dance, what other artistic expressions are you into? Who do you share them with?
In Madrid, I discovered yoga, which I share with my partner, who inspires and feeds me in that discipline. . It strengthens me physically and mentally. It is my movement meditation. I also love music and so I took up classical guitar and piano classes. But I’m still very much a beginner …
Devotion to art means learning something different every day and taking on new goals. What challenges does the future hold in store?
I don’t hold great objectives as such but I have always been totally open to the experiences that life offers me and I’m sure I’ll carry on being so.
11. And to finish with, seeing how it is your birthday, we should make a toast, no? A classic question: Are you more a wine person or do you prefer a beer?
Well, I’d start with a lemon shandy and, later, red wine.
SHANI PERETZ – SOLOIST CND
Interview by: Monserrat Martínez