Ballet Preljocaj (France)
– What I Call Oblivion
Suzanne Dellal Center, Tel Aviv
May 17

French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj is a highly prolific creator, and runs a well established company in Aix-en-Provence. Although his work is varied and covers a wide range of themes, underneath his contemporary expressions there is a strong classical foundation, which comes through in the strong technique of his dancers and the solid structure of his pieces.

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The work he presented on his current visit is rather unique, based on a book by Laurent Mauvignier who breathlessly, in one long sentence, tells the true story of a young man who was killed by supermarket security men in Lyon, 2007, who had accusing him of opening a can of beer without intending to pay for it. The four of them dragged him outside and beat him to death.

On stage, actor/narrator Laurent Cazanave recites the text, which is filled with gory details, before, during and after the cruel murder, throughout the long performance.

The first scene is the detailed portrayal of a couple having intercourse in the park, oblivious to onlookers. We soon learn that the man is the accused thief. Does this imply that his own loose morals reduce the guilt of his murderers? Otherwise why do we need to know – actually, see – all the act’s unorthodox variations? From then on, the dance include graphic acts of beatings, torture and abuse.

Preljocaj can easily produce strong scenes with impressive visual beauty and strong structure. The clash between blood and the banality of evil and beautiful movement and composition is quite manipulative. Beauty and violence often make for the best dramas, but sometimes can slide towards kitsch, and may cause repulsion.

Unfortunately, the screened translation of the demanding text was often interrupted, which made it impossible follow. Perhaps that, and the excessive violence, drove a number of spectators away before the curtain went down.

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