ACTION/INTERACTION – what comes next?
This was not the first time Bytom audiences could see these two choreographers from Israel – Yossi Berg and Oded Graf. And certainly it is well-nigh impossible to remain indifferent towards their ironic style and particular sense of humor, full of brilliant observations. The choreographers manage to engage the viewers, in a clever way: in the intimate play happening on stage and the interaction between their personalities and bodies. They themselves don’t neglect the presence of the audience, they sense and react to it. Action, reaction, constant movement and the interdependence of the dancing bodies are the essence of the two artists’ performance. Despite the ostensible straightforwardness of the choreography, the style of the dancers, highly accentuating its corporeal aspect, results in the viewers being deeply immersed in the on-stage frolic.
In “Most of the day I’m out” the audience experiences a battle between two male bodies, fought in the empty stage space. These bodies, seemingly alike, have different ways of moving, movement interpretation, and sensitivity. At the beginning of this short duo, lasting only ten minutes, the dancers, wearing dark blue overalls, stand at opposite sides of the stage and observe each other attentively. In unison, they lift their hands towards a zipper and slowly unzip their clothes to the waist. They show one shoulder, then the other. Finally, still undressed from the waist up, they go beyond the private space of the outfits. The interaction begins – it’s a dynamic duet full of vitality and humour. There’s passion and closeness, although mixed with violence, blows and the feeling of being constantly watched. The dancing game closes with an intimate Argentinian tango sung by Carlos Gardel which unites the dancers’ bodies. In this duet, Yossi Berg seems to be alluding to our lives, which constantly happen “outside”: outside our houses, outside our bodies, in the infinite space of possible references, meetings, coincidences. We are shaped by and we live thanks to interactions with other people, in confrontation with their behaviors, personalities, and bodies.
In the second piece, “Mechanical trio in a hot country”, the two choreographers are joined by a female dancer, Karmit Burian. The performance is a succession of movement sequences presented by the three artists, which, in time, transform from amusing “threesomes” with subtle erotic overtones to mechanical sequences of repetitive gestures and poses synchronised with the dynamic rhythm of breathing. The trio becomes an organic machine executing successive movement sequences which happen faster and faster. Laughter, breathing, and moaning cause the reactions of the cogwheels comprising the white-hot machinery of cooperating bodies. Eventually, the construction dies down; the exhausted dancers, leaning against each other, rise and fall slower and slower, with every breath becoming more languid. The red lighting, in the form of the fluorescent tubes placed in each of the four corners of the stage, emphasises the state they’re in.
The sounds accompanying the performance consist partly of the noises made by the dancing bodies themselves, their squeaks, laughter and groaning, and partly of the electronic music of the avant-garde artist John Cage introduced later in the piece, while the finish features John Fahey’s guitar work. “Mechanical trio” may be interpreted as a metaphor of interpersonal relations, and mechanisms we must accept if we live in society and agree to conform to its rules. There is no longer a place for coincidence and spontaneity.