Granhoj Dance company performed two creations by it artistic director Palle Granhoj, as part of the current edition of TLV dance events. A decade ago, on their first visit with No Woman No Cry, we were introduced to Granhoj; frayed loose-frame artistic pastures, with wild imagination, an affinity to props and naked bodies. His dancers could sing, play music and act.
Dancing, in fact, was secondary.
Words make his artistic world turn.
On his current visit he first introduces Dance Me To The End On/Off Love, an ambitious attempt to tame Leonard Cohen’s lyrics and songs to fit his personal measure. Where Cohen’s powerful impact comes from projecting pain, sorrow and love in an intense yet contained package, Granhoij resorts to ferocious (metaphorical) screams, takes apart the original texts and plays around with a plethora of mannequin’s heads; a most versatile prop, as it turns out. The overall result, unfortunately, seems contrived. The crude overdose of self-indulgence drowns the sad beauty of Cohen’s poetic sensitivities.
The next day, the company introduced its second dance-theater piece Men and Mahler. On stage, eight men, one woman and Mahler’s Song of the Earth, and more. Once more, the work is based on texts. This time, not on the lyrics of a poet and a lover, but rather on clichés collected by a female performer, pertaining to the nature of men.
This Eve bites an apple and wonders what it would be like to be a man. They are so interesting, she says, though simplistic and inferior to women. This reverse gender- bashing could be a great start for a satirical comedy, yet soon we see the eight men sweat to demonstrate her clichés on the football grass, on martial arts arena, flexing muscles or drooling on prevailing penis complex – a central topic among her fantasies. The decision to use Mahler’s divine music in that frivolous context is perceived as an attempt to give a more serious foundation to the otherwise rather simplistic affair.