Accidental Happiness

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

dance happy accident 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
dance happy accident 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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.
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 hasasked his girls to play boys. “In our society these roles are played bymen. However, this wasn’t the point for me. I don’t think that gendershould be an issue in everything. The minute you start talking aboutgender it becomes a bottomless pit.”
On the whole, Lev is a meticulous craftsman. Each one of his worksbegins with a binder full of neatly printed notes and drawings. Levrefers to these pages as his “blueprints,” the maps of his creativity.Lev’s works are almost exclusively solos, most of which he performshimself. Being that it is a group work in which he does not take thestage, Happy Accident forced Lev to adjust hisbehavior in the studio.
“I always have a conception with themes and details,” he said. “And Ido a process with myself before getting into the studio. I try out themovements myself. Working with a group can be tricky because we aren’tdoing theater. There is no text to give to each person. It’s physicaland abstract. I always tell my dancers to think about their linethrough the piece, their character, because I can’t give a rationalexplanation of the narrative.” Lev went on to explain that his biggestchallenge 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 HappyAccident. “I have an image of an Irish funeral in mind,” saidLev, “the kind where they drink a lot and party with the body.”
Happy Accident Over My Dead Body will be performed on June 30at 9:00 PM at the Musrara Community Center. Tickets are 30 NIS. Formore information visit