The edge of oblivion

Ballet Preljocaj presents a rather brutal work as part of Tel Aviv Dance.

Ballet Preljocaj (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ballet Preljocaj
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘When he entered the supermarket, he headed for the beer section. He opened a can and drank it. I don’t know what or whom he was thinking about while he was quenching his thirst. What I am sure of, though, is that between the moment when he arrived and when the guards stopped him, no one could have imagined that he wouldn’t get out.”
When Angelan Preljocaj read the above text, written by Laurent Mauvignier and published by the French Les Editions de Minuit, it stirred something in him. The text was a reaction to an event that took place in Lyon in 2009, in which four supermarket guards killed a 25-yearold customer. Awed by what he described on his website as Mauvignier’s “long interminable sentence, which links the interaction of bodies and the literary structure in a radical way,” Preljocaj set about translating his inspiration into a dance production. The result, Ce Que J’appelle Oubli (What I Call Oblivion), will be presented this weekend as part of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s Tel Aviv Dance festival.
The Aix-en-Provence-based Ballet Preljocaj is a staple in contemporary dance. Established in 1989, the troupe has been one of the most visible dance companies in Europe. Preljocaj’s name has become synonymous with technical virtuosity, brilliant musicality and flawless production value. A constant collaborator, Preljocaj has been known to amp up his dances with costumes by Jean-Paul Gautier (Snow White), music by Air (Near Life Experience) and sets by Enki Bilal (Romeo and Juliet).
Over the past 25 years, Preljocaj has created more than 70 dances, ranging from solos to large ensemble works. His choreographies are in the repertoires of companies around the globe, such as the Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala and the New York City Ballet. Preljocaj’s movement vocabulary is incorporated into the syllabi of most pre-professional dance programs as a means to achieve precision and dynamism.
Opting not to use all of his 26 company members, Preljocaj used this process to foster a more intimate environment. Ce Que J’appelle Oubli premiered at the 2012 Lyon Dance Biennial and brings six male dancers and one actor to the stage. The work stands out in Preljocaj’s repertoire as perhaps the most brutal of the company’s pieces. Preljocaj’s approach to the 2009 supermarket slaying sheds light on pack mentality-driven violence and the growing tension between native and immigrant communities. Though the piece is not explicitly about masculinity, Preljocaj depicts many facets of male behavior throughout the work.
Ballet Preljocaj last visited Israel in 2008 as part of the Israel Festival program. During their stay, the company performed Larmes Blanches (White Tears) and Les Noces (The Wedding).
The return of Ballet Preljocaj is part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Suzanne Dellal Center. Ballet Preljocaj is one of four foreign companies to be presented as part of the Tel Aviv Dance program. The first international troupe to take the Suzanne Dellal stage was Company Maguy Marin, whose 1981 work May B proved that often age and beauty are one in the same. Last weekend, Denmark’s Granhoj Dans brought two programs to the center: Dance Me to the End On/Off Love and Men and Mahler. Following Preljocaj, Tel Aviv Dance will host the Spanish Miguel Angel Berna Dance Company.
Ballet Preljocaj will perform at the Suzanne Dellal Center on May 16 at 10 p.m. and May 17 at 9 p.m. For more information, visit