Dance Review: Simple Action

SIMPLE ACTION, YASMEEN GODDER, Mendel Culture Center, Jaffa, March 17.

YASMEEN GODDER’S ‘Simple Action’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
YASMEEN GODDER’S ‘Simple Action’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yasmeen Godder’s latest work, Simple Action, aims to challenge the assumption that the audience’s role is necessarily passive, as opposed to the active role of the performer.
The audience and six dancers begin seated along the four sides of the room. Each dancer chooses a spectator as a partner. The dancer asks the spectator to lean on him, as he explains what to expect.
The dancer holds him safely, slowly lowering him to the floor. In the next 50 minutes all spectators will have the chance to enact this scene.
Some could even change roles and slowly lay down a dancer.
That way, the spectator’s role is as important as the dancer’s; both are seemingly equal contributors. The traditional segregation between dancer and spectator can be almost annulled in this case, where the physical requirements are simple.
The element that infuses deeper meaning into the slow action, rescuing it from the mundane, is the context.
The dancers reenact variations on the Pietà, that iconic sculpture of Mary cradling the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.
This charges the action with emotion. Compassion is brought out strongly as the dancers interact with their partners, building the trust which is crucial to the success of their scene.
The work, described as “a choreographic act, with audience participation, in the wake of Stabat Mater” was accompanied by musician Tomer Demsky who played the shruti, an Indian instrument, and chanted the text of Stabat Mater, the 13th century Catholic hymn to Mary, depicting deep agony.
Deconstructed to separate syllables, Demsky adopted the chanting style of Tibetan monks, which enhanced the ritualistic layer of this beautiful, moving creation.