The tale of Utopia


Yossi Berg and Oded Graf manage to surprise us once again with another chapter in their book of fairytales

Stimulating the imagination

The 24 Shakespearian sonnets dedicated to the “Dark Lady” begin with a couplet declaring that black has always been despised and in any case was not considered beautiful.

In “Swan Lake”, black symbolizes evil, and it is the same in Disney’s “Cinderella”, and in his “Snow White”, and therefore we cannot fail to understand the significance of the name “Black Fairytale” given to the new work of Yossi Berg and Oded Graf.

As in their previous work, so too in the new chapter of the dancing “Book of Fairytales” they are writing, these two choreographers take risks in their choice of ideas and movements to bring to the stage, and at the same time they stimulate the viewers’ imaginations to make connections with reality and meaning, even if only to give them pleasure during an evening of original dance.

Even more surprisingly, this new work speaks for itself and expresses itself. But above all – it is so complete that the usual critical task of breaking it down and referring to its separate parts and elements is almost Sisyphean. And when I think about this work and its quality, I see its wholeness and find myself again and again running away from the wonderful details – one by one and one after another – from its abundant ideas and bold images.

This is also the reason why I wanted to see it again, and immediately, and it was only my own mistake that caused me to arrive too late for the second performance, so I remained outside, with that wonderful but puzzling sense that this is a work that is “complete”, in the words of the friend who attended the performance with me. One word that recognizes the existence of the segments and their value, but is aware that even if they have their own dignity, it derives from the whole.

But what is this “whole”? If I try to define it, at least from my point of view, I would say that it is the objective for which every work of art strives. And “Black Fairytale” is a work of art in each one of its seventy minutes, from the enticing opening with the singing of the seven dancers – dwarves of the forest into which Berg and Graf lead us – and continuing with the chatter and gestures of movement, on the way to the dance of the large tent monster – until you reach the amazing Bolero sequence of characters from fairytales.

One body of movement

It was a pleasure to see these two once again displaying their characteristic language of body and motion – Berg who is always smiling, and Graf whose movement is dispatched like an arrow shot from a bow, and with them, their five friends and partners in creation, gathered together from Sweden, Denmark and France: Siri Wolthoorn, Anne Nyboe, Pierre Enaux, Soren Urup and Robert Logrell.

Each and every one of them has his or her own characteristic movements and personality that combine wonderfully and are assimilated into one body of movement, in one of whose thrilling climaxes all seven are identically exposed, wearing only black briefs. Then wickedness and evil also flee from the stage, and what happens on the stage is a clear hint of that Utopia whose deciphering in the broad areas of society and the intimacy of love it is the declared intention of the artists to attempt.

In the beautiful costumes designed by Mona Mueller Schmidt and lit by the colorful lighting of Omer Shizaf, and under the precise stage managing of Inbal Yaakobi, they create a parade in which familiar figures peer at us through them – from the reality that, if you will, is not a dream – and ideas that, even if we don’t will it, lead us to wonderment at “the beloved land of our forefathers where all hopes will come true”.

And here, against a backdrop of Hillel Kogan’s binding dramaturgy, and the artistic advice of Julia Giertz, and to the notes of a rich musical soundtrack, black suddenly takes on a new meaning, which breaks out of its status as a symbol of legends and poetry, and becomes a utopian image of man and earth, society, country and land seeking the unknown, longing for the hope that is not just an anthem.

For such a work of art there are just two other words to add: Thank you!

– Zvi Goren, Habama