Pericardium – Ella Ben-Aharon & Edo Ceder
Written by: Ayelet Dekel
Penetrating and precise as an arrow that pierces the heart; artistic vision and performance meet in Pericardium to create a dance with the intimacy of chamber music, powerful and profound. Choreographed and performed by Ella Ben-Aharon and Edo Ceder, in collaboration with Adi Shinderman and Matthias Neumann, Peridcardium was performed at the Suzanne Dellal Centre on Wednesday, August 8th in the context of the Summerdance Festival 2012.
The pericardium, in the simplest and most reductive of definitions, is a tough membrane which covers the heart, its double layers filled with a fluid which protects the heart. It is the unprotected heart whose lifeblood surges through love and art, and one of the strengths of this work is the way in which the themes of connection and separation, protection and vulnerability, intimacy and distance are explored in ways that extend beyond the binary opposition, to discover new places and possibilities, a complex range of emotion experienced through the body.
The curtain opens onto a stage divided in two by a wall consisting of three screens on wheels, each with a wider central part flanked by hinged narrow sections on either side, allowing for movement and a variety of potential configurations. A man, Edo Ceder, enters on one side; a woman, Ella Ben-Aharon enters on the other. Individual entities on either side of a wall; separated by a physical barrier, investigating the possibilities of that situation. As they move, playing with the hidden and revealed aspects of the set, a very distinctive body language emerges that revels in its use of space and accrues depth and articulation as the work unfolds to create a fascinating narrative of relationships.
The dancers are a pleasure to behold in their rugged grace and the fluid beauty of their movement. There was wonderful use of the floor and the lower realms of stage space – sitting, crawling, lying prone and transitioning in unexpected ways with speed, strength and agility. Ben-Aharon and Ceder’s performance was mesmerizing in its beauty and sense of the unexpected, as if there were places on the body yet to be discovered, different ways to move and touch.
Situating the work within a very well defined and precisely articulated physical context opens up the emotional, metaphoric space of this work, generating a flow of feelings and associations. The video art did not communicate as effectively for me as other elements of the work – music, lighting and the architecture/wall design; remaining for the most part a background element, with the striking exception of a repeated scene in which a mass of illustrated people walk past, setting the dancers apart from this crowd. Yet the different aspects of a wall – the boundaries that allow for privacy, protection, freedom; and the sense of an obstacle, a barrier to freedom, creating distance and separation between people, limiting space, vision and possibilities – and the difficulty of finding a balance between these elements finds expression in this work in vivid, eloquent and surprising ways.
Pericardium is a work that was created over time and distance, a process that began in New York, took on a new life in Tel Aviv, and appears to have benefited from the journey. Pericardium reflects a depth of commitment and connection as well as an understanding of change and curiosity: like the walls that move and shift, changing the scene and division of space on the stage, concealing and revealing, there is not a single narrative, there are multiple narratives. There are as many ways to connect and separate as there are moments in a lifetime, and there is always a new trajectory to explore, a new perspective from which to view both self and other.
See more of Gadi Dagon’s wonderful photos of Pericardium at this link.
Choreography & performance: Ella Ben-Aharon & Edo Ceder; Video: Adi Shniderman; Architecture: Matthias Neuman; Wall & Design: Nobuya Yamaguchi; Music: Yoed Nir/Odeya Nini; Light Design: Uri Rubinstein; Video Operation: “Rimoninio”; Rehearsal Director: Ricardo Da-Silva; Stage Managers: Ricardo Da-Silva, Dafna Dudovich; Producer: Shmulik Shalit.