The recent presentation of Second Count was a brave attempt to try and revive the old, floundering Jerusalemite dance group, managed until recently by its founder Tamara Myelnik.

Looking for a second chance, Myelnik stepped down and former dancer Lior Lev was nominated four months ago to rejuvenate the group. Lev, now artistic director of the ensemble, put on a contemporary piece which retained some ties to his own training and performing days with Stuttgart Ballet, formerly one of Europe’s stronger ballet companies.

Within a short time he managed to assemble a group of dancers, but presented them prematurely, and as a result, failed to reach the level of solidity necessary to match the performance skills of other similar size groups in the local dance field.

His contemporary choreographic sphere is on the more conservative side, and in spite of quite a few short moments of lovely compositions, he relied on rather simple, repetitous expression modes. The short sections didn’t accumulate enough energy or tension to form a cohesive entity, a full evening piece with an artistic statement.

The Achilles’ heel was the dancing itself. There were two male and five female dancers on stage. The eye rested most of the time on the strongest, Turkish dancer Ivrim Ak Yay, who was more experienced and functioned differently than the rest; without rounding up corners, without missing a beat, maintaining full control and awareness of his placing.

Next to Ivrim, it was too obvious that several participants were a far cry from true professional standards. They moved, but their bodies stayed limp between actions and lacked true vitality and full attention.

There is a lot of work left for Lior Lev to do on the way to making a meaningful and worthwhile change at the Jerusalem Dance Theater.

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