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Jessica Abrams
Music and Dance Reviews
Performance Programs
Performance Reviews
United States
Greater Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

L-E-V's HOUSE a creative and sensory circus

by Jessica Abrams
December 4, 2014
(Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater - in the Walt Disney Concert Hall)
631 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
"We explore multi-dimensional movement, we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it. We change our movement habits by finding new ones, we can be calm and alert at once.
We become available . . ."
- Ohad Naharin

Gaga, a movement language developed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, allows dancers and non-dancers alike to explore movement in new ways. "We learn to appreciate understatement and exaggeration, we become more delicate and we recognize the importance of the flow of energy and information through our body in all directions. We learn to apply our force in an efficient way and we learn to use 'other' forces," states Naharin. In fact when watching dance whose choreography is gaga-based, one has the feeling of entering a dimension where the body and its movement possibilities are limitless.

L-E-V is one such company. The brainchild of Sharon Eyal an Israeli choreographer and twenty-three-year veteran of the Batsheva Dance Company, and Gai Behar a nightlife promoter and producer. The dynamic duo have worked together since 2006. Their company L-E-V brings together dance, music, costume and pure showmanship to create works that lift dance out of its concert comfort zone and into a new realm.

L-E-V: HOUSE was a performance or rather an event at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater last month. It explored movement from a collection of points of view. From its rawness of the body and the possibilities therein, to its variety of dance styles and vernaculars that we as audience members have grown accustomed to and to its pure showmanship that pulled together creative forces from different corners of the artistic realm to create a sensory circus bringing to mind the Ballets Russes and its paintings by Picasso, costumes by Chanel and music by Stravinsky.

The hourlong piece began with Eyal herself clad in a black unitard snaking around the stage in a movement that managed to combine breakdance, ballet and modern dance a la the Twyla Tharp tradition of one effortless and exotic mix. She was soon joined by the rest of the company, clad in nude body suits. They moved slowly in a circle at times dipping deep into second position. The ballet training of their lower bodies allowed more freedom and at times for completely un-ballet movement in their upper. Their feet shaped into distinct ballet positions while their torsos undulated and writhed; shoulders at times inching very un-ballet-like towards the ears. The movement was at once percussive and liquid, and also incredibly tough to describe due to its nature of being all things at once: intimate, flashy, funny and serious, bold and shy, technical and pedestrian.

There is a hint of Fosse when the dancers shimmy in relevé and movement is restricted to below the belt body parts. A tango appears quickly out of the blue, as does a quick geometric gesture in the style of voguing. Faces dance in addition to bodies and open mouths recall the painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.

Music, designed by sound artist and collaborator Ori Litchtik, became more percussive as the movement became more fluid. The seven dancers now moved within their own orbit, each telling a story rife with internal drama. In a breathtaking adagio, a male/female couple fused themselves together to the point where it became difficult to see where one person began and the other ended.

Genders bent. Men wore heels and women supported men. Nothing was sacred and everything was explored. L-E-V: HOUSE lets us know what movement and performance can be when we move past categories and labels. Just as the dancers pushed their bodies past self-imposed limits, we the audience, were forced to look beyond our own definitions of gender, style, and the very essence of being to rest on something that encompasses it all.

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

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