Accidental Happiness

Female racecar drivers, death and soccer are just a few components in choreographer Asher Lev’s latest creation.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
June 25, 2010 21:06
3 minute read.
A racear driver trapped in purgatory in Asher Lev'

dance happy accident 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Choreographer Asher Lev broke into the Israeli dance scene several years ago with a one man show entitled Avi Cohen. He performed the piece only a handful of times and yet, it was enough to win him a certain infamy in the local dance community. At the age of 23, having recently exited the Batsheva Ensemble, Lev decided to put on his own show. He had been part of the creative process that led to Yasmeen Godder’s Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder during which time he designed a plan for Avi Cohen. In Avi Cohen, Lev shocked audiences by removing all of his clothing, consuming four bottles of wine at a rapid pace while sitting in an aluminum tub, vomiting the contents into the tub and doing an impressively long headstand in the vomit. Needless to say, the show was unforgettable.

Last summer Lev returned from several years in Scandinavia in order to go to university. Over the past year, alongside his studies, he created a work for Vertigo Dance Company’s workshop program and taught classes at Machol Shalem’s studio in Jerusalem. Now, Machol Shalem is producing Lev’s new piece, Happy Accident Over My Dead Body, which will be performed on Wednesday night as part of Machol Shalem’s Open Stage series.

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For Happy Accident Over My Dead Body, Lev decided to part ways with the melancholic unraveling of Avi Cohen and shoot for something sunnier. Over lunch in southern Tel Aviv, he explained, “I wanted to make something more sarcastic this time, something happy. It is a happy work.”

Lev’s cast of women portrays a racecar driver and her crew members. During the course of the piece one dancer assumes the role of the announcer and watches as the racecar driver is killed in an accident and attempts to leave this world. When she discovers that she is trapped in some kind of purgatory, the racecar driver, along with her crew begin to play soccer. This scene represents the resurrection of the racecar driver, explained Lev.

And while these roles may seem to be male, Lev does not feel he has asked his girls to play boys. “In our society these roles are played by men. However, this wasn’t the point for me. I don’t think that gender should be an issue in everything. The minute you start talking about gender it becomes a bottomless pit.”

On the whole, Lev is a meticulous craftsman. Each one of his works begins with a binder full of neatly printed notes and drawings. Lev refers to these pages as his “blueprints,” the maps of his creativity. Lev’s works are almost exclusively solos, most of which he performs himself. Being that it is a group work in which he does not take the stage, Happy Accident forced Lev to adjust his behavior in the studio.

“I always have a conception with themes and details,” he said. “And I do a process with myself before getting into the studio. I try out the movements myself. Working with a group can be tricky because we aren’t doing theater. There is no text to give to each person. It’s physical and abstract. I always tell my dancers to think about their line through the piece, their character, because I can’t give a rational explanation of the narrative.” Lev went on to explain that his biggest challenge as a choreographer is winning the trust of his dancers, bringing them to a point where they can “start to give.”



Overall, there is a lot of silliness in Happy Accident. “I have an image of an Irish funeral in mind,” said Lev, “the kind where they drink a lot and party with the body.”

Happy Accident Over My Dead Body will be performed on June 30 at 9:00 PM at the Musrara Community Center. Tickets are 30 NIS. For more information visit www.machol-shalem.org.

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