Artistic Director/choreographer: Sharon Eyal
Co-Artistic Director: Gai Behar

Jacob’s Pillow/Ted Shawn Theatre, July 24-28

Reviewed by Joel Greenberg


A week ago I praised the vision of both Jacob’s Pillow and its Executive and Artistic Director, Ella Baff. In essence, I said (and I believed, as I still do) that where they lead, we are willing to follow. However, with the final performance of L-E-V, the young Israeli company driven by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, my fealty was tested.


“House”, their 60-minute programme, provided a showcase for an ensemble with extraordinary technical dexterity. But as admirable as the dancers proved themselves to be, the choreography’s repetitive patterns and movements served only to distance my response. And the relentless soundscape, created and mixed offstage by Ori Lichtik exacerbated the tedium.


The performance opened with a striking visual image of a dancer appearing through a mixture of haze and light, designed by Bambi. And the movement, suggesting both grace and disfigurement, established the vocabulary for all that followed. Body lines were further enhanced by the costumes created by Ma’ayan Goldman, a design that punctuated the erotic and violent imagery of Eyal’s choreography.


In the past, when I’ve been confused by a dance – what can it mean? Why are they doing whatever it is they are doing? – I’ve been able to stop the inner inquisition long enough to take in the visual world in front of me. Not so with L-E-V, sorry to say. I waited as long as I could before I checked my watch – it was at the 40-minute mark – and then I forced myself back to the stage. But by then I was feeling desperate for the dance to finish. 


Walking to the parking lot afterward, a friend commented in a way that helped me to see the work in an altogether different way: she said that the influence of the Middle East was possibly essential to the work we’d just seen. (The music had been as alienating to my friend as it had been to me.) She said that in a world where daily life is filled with anxiety, stress, noise and turmoil it makes sense for “House” to reflect those same responses. The theory made good sense to me and, even though I did not enjoy the performance, helped to provide me with a credible context.


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