May Zarhy is a Berlin and Tel Aviv based choreographer and performer. She created her first piece for the National Choreography Biennial Shades in Dance 2001, Tel Aviv, at the age of 16, before moving to the Netherlands, where she graduated from the Rotterdam Dance Academy in 2006. During her studies, she also worked as William Forsythe’s assistant at the Forsythe Company (2005). In 2007, she completed Xavier Le Roy and Mathilde Monnier’s ex.e.r.ce post-graduate program, in Montpellier, France.
Later, Zarhy co-founded with Fabrice Mazliah and Ioannis Mandafounis the collaborative trio Mamaza (2009 - 2014), with whom she created and performed around the world. The trio members were selected as associate artists at deSingel, Antwerp (2011-2012), and resident artists at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt (2012-2014). Since 2014, Zarhy has been creating her own performance work as well as participatory works in the public sphere. Between 2017-2019, she was curating and presenting her screening series Cinemay at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, hosting artists such as Eszter Salamon, Youness Atbane, Germaine Acogny and others.
Zarhy is the head of the post-graduate choreography study program in Kelim Center Israel since 2021. She also works as a dramaturg and rehearsal director for fellow artists such as: Adi Boutrous, Hermann Heisig, Fabrice Mazliah and Shira Eviatar, and she has been teaching at The School of Visual Theater Jerusalem, K3 Hamburg, Jerusalem Academy for Music & Dance, and more.
As a choreographer and performer, I am drawn to the intersection of choreography, performance, and sound art. I explore the materiality of the human body through movement and sound. I approach the body as a living sculpture, which is never actually still. Working with it demands a heightened sense of attention and care. This act of being attentive and open to the body's potential is my core motivation, and it informs all aspects of my practice. I design immersive environments for my performances, where the public and the performer/s share the space, thus inviting the viewers to encounter and observe unfamiliar aspects of their bodies while suspending their interpretation of this experience.
Teaching is an important part of my practice. When I teach, I invite people to enter a safe space where their thoughts, feelings, and sensitivities are channeled through the body’s movement. Starting with somatic work and anatomical awareness warm-up directing focus inwards, the participants are gradually guided into an in-depth physical research, shifting the focus outwards into space. The practice involves durational movement while witnessing and giving into the body’s needs and directions.
My approach is based on task-oriented improvisation, where one juggles in real-time between letting go and choice-making, intuition and shape (or image) making. I see the practice as a creative cleansing where one’s attention, concentration, and presence are at the center.
I share my research in independent workshops and courses in art schools. However, my practice is designed for anyone who is interested in an in-depth physical exploration or curious about a creative movement-based space, with or without a dance background.
© Tamar Lamm