Come Jump With Me: A Smart And Refined Parody. Through Dialogue and Movement, Dancers Yossi Berg and Olivia Court Mesa Clarify Questions Regarding Love for an Israel Wracked with Violence
Watching Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s work Come Jump With Me is like leafing through a comic book that describes a heated political reality. This theatre of movement conveys a smart and refined parody of difficult issues that becomes a gut-wrenching act of hara-kiri.
The performance space is marked by broken lines made by masking tape – perhaps denoting the sea and the sky, perhaps a twisted Star of David. The audience sits on the stage, adjacent to the “borders.”
The dance opens when Berg, a former Israeli who has returned for a visit, observes the violence in the country. Sitting next to Court Mesa, he turns to her and asks: “Is this the Holy Land?” He repeats the question over and over again – from humorously to tragically. She, a new immigrant from South America who has fallen in love with the country and has converted to Judaism, answers that one can find here many historical antiquities, in addition to the sea and the sun. She loves Israel and thinks that everything here is wonderful. He continues to ask if he has arrived to the Holy Land, and concludes there is no future here. This difficult dialogue serves as the foundation of this work, and is later translated to movement as dismantled words are relentlessly and exasperatingly repeated again and again.
Berg’s boyish looks instill a child-like innocence to his incessant “Ma Nishtana” style questioning. In one scene they both skip rope – each jumping on their own – continuing until it clearly becomes an effort. With each jump the rope mercilessly hits the stage, and the dancers continue their dialogue, as if they need to clarify the relentless questions. In another scene, while dancing, he says that he did not serve in the military but in all of his dance performances he found himself playing the role of a soldier – as if fate is teasing him.
In one dream-like utopian scene they roll around on the floor to the tune of waltz music, shouting “We love Israel!” and kissing as if they were in a “Visit Israel” poster designed for a foreign audience. And in another scene they both throw rocks and then fall back, as if hit by gunfire, and then get up again, throwing and then, again, falling. This is a choreography composed of hand-waving, falling and getting back up again.
The action is cut as the dancers run and then are stopped by the masking-tape borders of Israel, as they attempt to escape. The movement repeats itself, as they run in a different direction, or when they run backwards. Piles of lollipops are spread across the stage. While Berg attempts to “swim” in these lollipop mounds, she chooses to lick several of them, to cover her eyes with them, perhaps attempting to paint reality with some sweet pinkness. And if that doesn’t work, one can always do Yoga or meditate, as she skillfully demonstrates to us.
Berg and Court Mesa are strong performers with a rich dance background. Their excellent dancing skills sustain the production. This is a confident and interesting piece, even if some refining is required to shorten and tighten the performance. The dance closes with the two protagonists close together, holding a boat’s paddle. They imagine they are sailing to somewhere else — perhaps an exotic island, where there isn’t any news and where one does not need to pretend.
This performance translates ideas creatively and refreshingly. The fact that it is wrapped in lightness cannot dim the depth of the challenges and the pain felt by young people in this country, and not only by them.