'Black Velvet: Architectures and Archetypes'.
(photo credit: MAURICIO PISANI)
The dozens of dance events showcased and produced by the Machol Shalem Dance House in Jerusalem, attracted more than 60 foreign guests, including many repeat audience members, whose senses were kept extremely busy. It was not only for a fresh taste of the local dance scene, but also the uniqueness of this amazing city and the intimacy and warm hospitality of the hosts.
Sampling two days meant attending dozen of performances at five locations ranging from Migdal David to Leo Model. Some of the most striking performances were chosen not for their perfection, but for their effort to challenge conventional forms and attitudes, regardless of faults or rough edges – perhaps because of them.
First among them would have to be Cut, Loose, created and performed by Stav Marin and Neta Weiner, who move while they talk, belt out songs and endlessly duel, all the while stabbing their lovers as they peel away layers of political, gender and cultural rivalry that mirror their own soft spots and survival skills.
But the fierce physical encounters pale against the sharp tongues. Their pointed rhetoric inflicts pain, ignites passions, or both, while their extremely rich multilayered texts produce a socially, morally hilarious farce.
Contrasted with that fast-moving piece, Collective Loss of Memory, by Jozef Frucek of Prague, took a long time to reach its point. Here, the five foot-loose male dancers seemed to hang out for fun and leisure, wasting their time and ours, competing verbally over who has the longest member and other such nonsense typical of teenagers trying to act cool and look manly. There was hardly a reason to suspect any substance hidden behind the performance.
Then, in a single second, the dance house producers knocked the wind out of us, screening visuals taken by a street camera of a bunch of thugs kicking a man to death on a public thoroughfare and turning our minds and guts inside-out.
Shamel Pitts created Black Velvet: Architectures and Archetypes, which he performed with Mirelle Martins. Pitts is a very capable former-Batsheva dancer and a novice choreographer. But he has presence and strong creative urges that are expressed in very personal perceptions of space and light, drawing our attention to relationships between bodies and architecture, and music and text.
He brings to the stage his unique sensitivities regarding his art, along with a promise of things to come.
Well worth mentioning are the refined and deep work by Yasmeen Godder, a duet choreographed by Gil Kerer, a superbly textured work of Tami Itzhaki, and the pedantically nonchalant work of Uri Shafir.