The major legacy of Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar is a lexicon of movement that is unlike that of other artists. It’s their own language, full of passion and, at the same time, marvelously delicate. The dancers move like people from another culture, with bodies that move differently and with a world of images and memories of their own. These two dances have already been performed by troupes overseas: “Sara” by the Nederlands Dans Theater 2 in 2012, and “Killer Pig” by the Norwegian Carte Blanche troupe in 2009.
The former, according to the program, was inspired by an antique jewelry box. The latter deals with “a gentle soul on the verge of collapse.” What I saw was two dances that are about expanding the lexicon of movement into compositions that come into being with musical sensitivity.
“Sara” is a dance that lasts for about 14 minutes, with the dancers wearing shiny black bodysuits designed by Odelia Arnold. Only the skin on their palms and heads remains exposed. Here, the body looks like an elongated container, with the energy moving inside it sculpting the exterior shape of the body. Occasionally there is a very short and sudden halt, as though the thought is trying to recover its senses, to understand the place of energy in the interior spaces of the body, to mark its location in relation to the walls. To touch the walls, to feel their thickness and the distance from them.
Most of the dance takes place in a personal space. The dancers are implanted lightly and the entire body moves as though within a stream of water that creates a quality of stems responding to the flow. Occasionally the mouth opens, as though trying to speak, but a voice is not heard. The complexity and texture of the details, and the precise rendition, creates a wonderful gem of movement.
The main work is “Killer Pig.” Here, skin is generously on display, and the minimal outfits, designed by Sharon and Behar, blend with the dancers’ skin tone. There is no scenery, but lighting emphasizes the three-dimensional nature of the body, illuminating it like a sculpture.
This time, the movement begins only with light and quick movements at the edges of the body – the hands, feet and head. Later, the shoulders join in; there is thrusting from the chest, the ribs expand, and the hands, which are attentive to the waves of breathing and discontinued breathing, are placed on the ribs.
Sometimes hands are flung far out, turning into long threads in order to touch the distance, and then return to their place. Progress is made in small and measured steps, on the entire sole or on the balls of the foot, like a hidden thread locks the thighs together as the hips almost touch the floor. Gradually the pace increases, reminding us of a ceremonial tribal dance. As in earlier works by Eyal and Behar, whatever the starting point for the subject of the work, the dance will always end in some tribal ritual in which the body maneuvers and celebrates the victory of listening to itself.
It is fascinating to discover, together with the choreographers, the surprising new elements that enrich the lexicon of movement. Another unique contact between hands and body, another strong backward stretching of the hands, almost like the ballerina in the “Swan Lake” solo, with a tremor in the palms.
There’s a curious connection with ballet, like in the tour en l’air, jumps with legs together while twirling in the air, and the batterie, in which the dancer’s legs open and close rapidly, as well as long-distance jumps that have undergone a mutation as though they have begun to melt and their new shape has frozen. There is also a quick switching of feet in front, as though in some folk dance. And when the pace increases, it looks as though the earth is burning. In one of the loveliest parts, the dancers create a chain, link hands and hold them aloft, progressing on their big toes while walking slowly, as though flying in a dream.
The lexicon of movement is composed of many details, and it’s a pleasure to see how the excellent dancers have internalized the language and dance and all the wonderfully polished details with precision.
Among the dancers, Leo Lerus stands out. He looks as though the materials of movement are taking him back home, to the place where he was born, and he joyfully devotes himself to them. In this work, the talent of the choreographers shines through and they are deserving of every possible assistance from their troupe.
The L-E-V troupe stages “Killer Pig” and “Sara,” at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv on December 5-6.