French Connection 2 Alban Richard, Bernardo Montet Suzanne Dellal Center Tel Aviv April 14, 15 The dance series French Connection 2 at Suzanne Dellal gives a faint taste of current contemporary dance from France - an important center of cutting-edge dance that challenges old concepts. The first night introduced a bold approach to dance with the duet Lointain (Distant) by Alban Richard. The tantalizing lighting design by Valerie Sigward used massive state-of-the-art lighting fixtures to create rich hues of darkness - so dark that one spent most of the time trying to guess what was going on stage. Was the faint object backstage human? Did it move? Were there two figures? Male or female? At rare moments, the light came up for a fraction of a second to reveal a couple wearing strange outfits with bulges in unexpected places. The duo needed very little space, since they were mostly rolled up and only moved in slow motion. Short of sitting blindfolded, it is the darkest dance you'll ever see (or not see). On the second night Bernardo Montet put on a highly textured outfit with granular skin and camouflage colors to perform his solo Amphibian, Afternoon. Montet did indeed look like a lone lizard in a desolate universe waiting for the next step of evolution. He moved carefully, not as lithe as in his younger days, but he bestowed gentle, rounded, even effeminate moves to the huge tiptoeing animal. French Connection 2 Silvain Groud Company Suzanne Dellal Center, Tel Aviv April 18 Choreographer Silvain Groud presented two creations at Suzanne Dellal last week, reflecting two different artistic currents. Both tried to deal with heavy existentialist notions, hoping to find recompense in the creative process. In the program Groud talks about the result of a gesture without corporal memory or its worth without recall. In his duet L'Obuli (Oblivion), danced with Agnes Canova, one needs no notes in order to read into the volatile relationship of two loners who crave interaction and fear its consequences. The quality of movement, its intensity, the muscular tones and breathing are all kinesthetic clues of the body's emotional fibers. They reveal distance and compassion, violence and passion, all expressed in understated gestures; she strokes his bald head while she fights him off, he pushes roughly and then firmly catches her. The pair kept distinctive partnering throughout their oscillating encounters using varying dynamics that were fascinating to watch. Video projection on the front screen contributed another layer of images which added depth and relevance. Groud searched in his solo Zones Preoccupees for a way to overcome the stressful events after the 9/11, which left him feeling isolated and defenseless. His nudity in the opening and closing scenes is far from provocative. Baring his body is a way of battling his fears. That was obvious. But contrary to his first work, which was based on movement, Groud chose to wrestle with conceptual approach to dance in his solo. His message got cluttered with all the props and materials he used and eventually his path lost focus.