Dancing Up a Desert Storm

With intriguing body movements, stunning lighting and a superb soundtrack, the Kamea Dance Company performs a work that never ceases to amaze.

Kfir Bolotin

In a dazzling poetic riff, the choreographer Tamir Ginz calls his new work “Bamidbar Devarim,” juxtaposing the names of the last two books of the Pentateuch. These words are declaimed whenever the names of the books of the Torah are rattled off, though without anyone pausing to reflect on the musical resemblance between them.

The decision to isolate and abut them not only underscores the aural echoes, but also plays up the contrast in their meaning. “Midbar” – “desert” in Hebrew – refers to an open, almost primal expanse, imbued with mystery and nature in the raw. The word “devarim” refers, on the one hand, to cultured objects, and, on the other, linguistic elements. It is precisely this fluidity that Ginz seeks – successfully – to capture and represent in his work.

“Bamidbar Devarim” opens with a scene that evokes primeval chaos, Genesis-like: a world of creatures of vague identity and abrupt movements, moving amid a dense, deceptive atmosphere, the creatures disappearing only to reappear when caught in the light.

The lighting, by Shai Yehuda – who is also the stage designer – is stunning. In parts of the work it’s the lighting design that generates the drama. Throughout, it supports and complements Ginz’s choreography.

The marvelous music by Avi Balali – a fusion of classical instruments and sounds and more oriental rhythms and vocalizations – is also perfectly suited to the work’s concept. Balali makes use of metallic sounds as well, which inject a contemporary urban feeling. They are a perfect and necessary counterpoint for the desert images.

The dancers’ movements are a blend of styles, rhythms and cultures. Ginz continues to draw heavily on classical ballet, both as a technical foundation and as a source of choreographic inspiration.

At the same time, he’s not shy about heading into surprising places, integrating modern dance, jazz, folklore and even African dance into the work. This could have produced clutter and confusion, but the work remains lucid, the elements linked by a uniform creative line.

My guess is that Ginz gave his dancers more of a free hand (or leg) than in the company’s previous works, notably in the solo segments. The movement framework remains, but each dancer adds slightly different nuances, producing a highly interesting set of images.

This is clearly an auspicious period for Ginz, who has surrendered himself to the vast pleasure involved in dancing. The body of dancers ebb and flow ceaselessly, exploring the encounter with the space around them and other bodies, without fear of suppressed violence that might be latent within them, and without trying to hide the gentleness enshrined in their movements.

One of the finest segments, created for the five male dancers in the troupe, was reminiscent of the works of the contemporary Czech choreographer Jirí Kylián (particularly his “Stamping Ground,” but with the welcome addition of wildness and no little homoeroticism). We should also single out dancer Shlomi Miara, whose lithe, cat-like movements are nothing less than a phenomenal fusion of Michael Jackson and Israeli dancer Ido Tadmor.

But the truth is, there are no weak links in this ensemble. In contrast to recent works by Kamea, this time the choreography matches the troupe’s abilities. Even a few clichés and a bit of kitsch here and there couldn’t spoil the pleasure of the event.

The Kamea Dance Company will perform “Bamidbar Devarim” on July 17 at 9 P.M.
and July 18 at 2 P.M., at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.