Dance Review: The Europe of yesteryear

Dance Europa, the annual dance showcase which kicked off last week in Tel Aviv, featured two particularly promising pieces in its first few days.

October 23, 2006 08:00
2 minute read.
gavirlo dance 88 298

gavirlo dance 88 298. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Dance Europa, the annual dance showcase which kicked off last week in Tel Aviv, featured two particularly promising pieces in its first few days. Only one of the pair lived up to expectations, but both are a welcome testament to the diversity of performances on display at the dance festival, which will continue at venues in Haifa and Tel Aviv through October 31. Blame it on Gavrilo Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center October 16 Austrian choreographer Karl Schreiner named this work after Gavrilo Princip, the lower class Serbian nationalist whose assassination of Austro-Hungary's Archduke Ferdinand ignited World War I. Overtly political dance is rare these days, but this collaboration, the work of two Austrian choreographers and a group of Israeli dancers, inevitably suggests some kind of discussion between the past and present. But no - it's clear as soon as Blame It on Gavrilo gets started that Schreiner and his compatriot choreographer, Nikolaus Adler, have refrained from touching on anything remotely controversial, instead offering a simple lyrical duet set to the heart-rending tones of Franz Schubert's "Death and the Maiden." The dance's name proves a false promise - political this piece is certainly not. Romantic metaphors of various kinds are introduced throughout the hour-long dance piece, but the issues are so diffuse that it's hard to understand what message the choreographers are attempting to convey. Gavrilo also disappoints by wasting its cast of seven fine dancers, who despite the weak material are clearly capable of so much more. Gavrilo's choreography is also mostly banal, and few artistic risks have been taken with the set, costumes and lighting. At times, the dance's sluggish energy level made the stage seem too big. Radio & Juliet Ballet Maribor Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center October 19. Radio & Juliet, choreographer Edward Clug's impressive project for Slovenia's Ballet Maribor Company, is set to music by British alternative rock group Radiohead. Clug in no way intends to re-tell the Shakespeare tragedy alluded to by his title; though inspired by the story's more dramatic elements, his ultimate goal here is to portray the depths of despair and frustration created by unfulfilled love. The result is a compelling performance by six male dancers and one female - presumably the Juliet of the piece. But here, none of the dancers plays a single role, and the play's narrative serves mostly as a springboard for a study of the complex relationships between all of the dancers - not just Juliet and her men. The piece provides ample opportunities to appreciate their sharp, precise work. Radio & Juliet's use of black and white video footage in the background proves a particularly successful touch - the video is intriguing on its own merits, and it pulls together the piece's dance scenes effectively.

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