Review: Exposing the heart in the brutal dance of love

Sometimes it’s hard to feel what you know a choreographer wants you to feel.

In case “Chapter 3: The Brutal Journey of the Heart,” there are many deliberate positions of the supple bodies: arched back, distal arms, wider and deeper folds. This evening-long piece, by the company LEV, dances – and winds – around themes related to the anguish that love brings. There is joy in pain.

It’s helpful to know that LEV means “heart” in Hebrew. In the final installment of a trilogy that explores the love aspects of the company’s art directors and founder, Sharon Eyal – formerly a star of Batsheva Dance Company and a time a choreographer at home – and Gai Behar, whose heart is both muscular and tender. Once the chest is fully released with the arms pulled behind the back, the body is vulnerable.

But this “Brutal Journey,” which premieres in the US at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday, is a twisty ride as six dancers unleash their sensuality with such force that it’s turned into a parody . Is it trippy? Not really. The choreography suits Gaga, the language of movement developed by Batsheva’s longtime artistic director Ohad Naharin; it can be hypnotized, but here it is static.

Over an hour-long “Brutal Journey,” with Ori Lichtik’s poetic percussion soundscape, feels like a lot of parodies — of Gaga, of a Gaspar Noé dance party, of a fashion show. The outfits are by Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of Christian Dior Couture, who dressed the dancers in tattooed outfits, each with a red heart on the left side. of the chest. It’s a bit much.

The program notes include some words curated by Eyal, including “Silence. Dryness. Emptiness. There is also a quote from Hanya Yanagihara’s brutal novel, sometimes “A Little Life”, which reads, “things break and sometimes they get fixed, and in most cases they are. Sometimes, you realize that no matter what is damaged, life will rearrange itself to make up for your loss, sometimes wonderfully. ”

It is true that dancers radiate a bad quality in their bodies. The pitch changes along with Alon Cohen’s dusty lighting, trying to create a sense of seamlessness, but as one part flows into the next, the tempo gets mixed up. The curtain opens as a single dancer is balancing on the demi-pointe with one hand secured to her chest and the other to her stomach.

Moving her hips, she leaned and twisted on her tiptoes, until two other people stepped in from the wings and stroked her neck like wild animals. In the end, more dancers joined in; as they take small, petty steps in unison – spreading and converging – a lyric runs through the tune: “You’re one of those creatures.”

While there is something like ecstasy about “Brutal Journey,” it never lands in a place unfamiliar enough. The monotony of the movement – especially the arms twisted like weathered twigs – and the repetitive way the dance’s structure gives rise to a purposeless and purposeless quality. the performer’s journey to find love or perhaps try to go beyond it.

The contrast of fast feet with slow motion poses will soon become a reality; at one point, with the dancers forming a table, the two bend their arms around a third dancer in the center – as if searching for a heart around her. Curiosity, or something loosely like it, enters the choreographic picture, but what is it aiming for? Just as the dancers’ ferocity seems forced, this “Brutal Journey” feels antiquated, a relic of a pre-pandemic world where the performance could have more easily survived in the country. a place with commercial lighting. (Its premiere took place in September 2019.)

These dancers, drowning in the pain of love and longing, never break your heart. They get caught up in the feeling, but no matter how deeply they feel, it just can’t get past the stage. As the curtain slowly fell, they continued to move – as if lost in love.


Through February 27 at the Joyce Theater, Manhattan; Review: Exposing the heart in the brutal dance of love

Fry Electronics Team

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