Dance Review: Israel Ballet's Nova Carmen

The Israel Ballet's Nova Carmen (photo credit: ARIEH VIGANDI TASHLITZKY)
The Israel Ballet's Nova Carmen
The Israel Ballet has tried before to keep up with the times and shed its conservative image, but now it decided to take a huge leap in inviting Sharon Eyal to work with the company. Eyal, a former pillar of the Batsheva Dance Company as both dancer and choreographer, represents hard-core progressive contemporary dance, and is highly appreciated internationally.
She was invited by the Israel Ballet to spice up and uplift the company and finally make it more relevant.
To do so she worked for months to reshape the dancers’ minds, changed their perception of what her Gagabased artistic perception means. To a high degree she succeeded. It was certainly a surprise to see the company manage to follow Eyal’s wild mind, her unique, oozing passions and contradictory body politics, which go against the grain of ballet’s discipline.
The work is totally within Eyal’s realm, Carmen or not. No trace of the original narrative is left in Eyal’s treatment, and only bits and pieces of Georges Bizet’s score towards the end remained, and they were reworked and woven into Ori Lichtik’s music that accompanied the evening and served as crucial foundation of the work.
The creation comprises three sections and from the word go, its core components were already there.
A long first act relied on individual presence, stringing a chain of solos together, danced in a smoky, dark grey ambiance. The first dancer moved to center stage and used angular, deconstructed and off-center moves, with high intensity. This was the most inventive, intensive and brave artistic move of the evening.
Eyal, as an avid clubber, developed her movement arsenal in sync with original techno music by DJ Lichtik, a cooperation they have maintained for years.
the second act dealt with the tension between a group and occasional outsider, which enabled Eyal to go back to some of her past works based on strong unisons, with pulsating pelvises, tribal rites and tons of breathless passion. The prolonged, tight group unisons often verged on self hypnosis, with repetitive, small actions were performed incessantly dozens of times, and will be best remembered for a single sexy male duet, a bundle of contradicting emotions.
Bits of Bizet’s music for Carmen, rearranged, were introduced slowly, including some of the best known sections, while the group softened, and hesitantly lost its energy and Eyal the plot.
Carmen Nova started with a blast and dwindled in the end. Even so it was a worthy challenge for the Israel Ballet’ audience, and its dancers, who did good.