The Set-Up: Another year, another Dance Month finished. On February 9, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center (ERJCC) concluded its annual celebration of all things dance with the presentation of Company E's NEXT: An Evening of Choreography of Israel and Spain. The visiting troupe hailed from Washington D.C.
The Execution: NEXT consisted of six dances, four of which were choreographed by talent originating from Israel. The program's most memorable pieces were performed early in the first half. Rachel Erdos' Alma was a stunner of a show opener. The duet is performed on a stage littered with 80 green apples, which the dancers use to manipulate their movement. In one mystifying moment, a dancer uses the apples to lock his partner down; he puts one between her knees, another between her arm and side, and a third in the nook of her throat. Her body reacts as if each piece of fruit weights a ton, and it becomes clear that the apples really are being used as a metaphor for that passion that lovers use for both pleasure and punishment.
Alma was followed by Theater of Public Secrets, Ronen Koresh's chilling and graphic portrayal of the conflict between the public world and the one that is inside our heads. A dancer sits at an innocuous desk with her head down in repose. When she awakes, her body becomes a flurry of self-inflicted torment. There are moments when she is able to calm the spasms emitting from her core, and smooth out her dress, a weak attempt to hide the maelstrom within. When a second dancer appears - her lover, perhaps - the intensity of the movement shifts to the couple's interactions with each other. It's a sad, but poignant reality, that perhaps everything that we do in the open, including the time we invest in love, is really just a show.
NEXT ended with Few, a world premier by Thomas Noone and Nuria Martinez of Spain. Miguel Marin's original score created an enigmatic and eerie backdrop to this dance of fear. Bodies tremble and reverberate, hands flap around in madness and faces dart in every direction as if expecting some wretched fate. There is a palpable energy that is generated by this frantic dance. Bodyweight is thrown about and limbs extend and melt in electrifying sequential movement. By the time the dancers run off stage, the energy is still there, still alive and very much felt.
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The Verdict: Distinguished by relevant subject matter and athletic, yet, lovely movement, Company E proved to be an inspired choice for Dance Month's guest company performance. Now that all has been said and danced, much praise must be given to the ERJCC's dance director, Maxine Silverstein, for orchestrating such an entertaining, enlightening and necessary enterprise. This year's programming has me marking my calendar for Dance Month 2014. Only 12 months to go.