Anat Shinar dances with lifelong curiosity, experimentation

University of Minnesota alum Anat Shinar experiments with movement and contemporary dance.

by Ksenia Gorinshteyn

As a kid, Anat Shinar says she was the one “dominating” every playdate. She would ask her friends to do scene-by-scene remakes of “The Little Mermaid” from start to finish and make sure they were true to the story. 

As a dancer today, Shinar’s self-assuredness is ever-present in her performances. 

“There was always a sense of curiosity and discovery in my home growing up,” said Shinar, a University of Minnesota alum.

She enrolled in various extracurriculars as a kid, but something about dance just clicked. 

“I was obsessed with it right off the bat,” Shinar said. “I remember negotiating as my siblings would quit their dance classes, that I would get to take an additional one.”

Years of classes, rehearsals, recitals and choreography allowed her movements to transition from clumsy to graceful and fine-tune her creative process and dance style. Eventually, Shinar landed on contemporary, experimental dance.

“I’m interested in these conversations that artists have, which many non-artists are involved in,” she said. “But I also think of my work as having a part in this ongoing discourse within the field of performance and art more generally.”

Pieces like “Coping Mechanism 1,” performed at the Walker Art Center in 2018, and “Here’s How (Refuted),” performed at the Red Eye Theater in 2018, include both awkward and smooth movements. In the former, Shinar shoves Cheetos into her mouth while sliding on and off a couch, and in the latter, she quotes self-help books in an imitation TED Talk.

“I’m not using words to tell a story,” Shinar said. “I’m using the words the same as I use the movement, which is to set the mood and to create a feeling.”

On March 5, Shinar performed “I believe in you, I just don’t think we can do it, OR USE ME” at Bryant-Lake Bowl & Theater as a collaboration between her and three other dancers.

“It kind of lends itself to the idea that you can’t really just work on one idea at a time,” Shinar said. “This ended up being other people’s explorations of emotion and everybody’s processes were very different.”

Shinar worked with Amal Rogers, Emily Gastineau and Theo Langason and allowed them each to contribute to the performance.

“[Shinar] prefers to have a few more layers between herself as a person and herself as a performer,” Langason said. “We just sort of talked about different ways of shedding those things.”

The result was a performance that explored emotions, memories, empathy and movement. 

“Each choreographer wanted to see her being sincere on stage,” Rogers said. “She messes with the audience a lot in her own work so each of us were interested in what it looks like for her to be genuinely emotionally expressive.”

This piece summarized an ongoing expression of Shinar’s desire to experiment and learn — an ode to a lifelong curiosity that has been instilled in her at such a young age.

“I hope [in my art] to give people a time and space to learn something or notice something or experience something,” she said.