L-E-V Sharon Eyal-Gai Behar: Killer Pig

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There is no getting past the name of this piece: Killer Pig. Whatever your associations, the inherent violence is undeniable; there is no way to come into this piece empty, a blank slate. It demands your attention, much like the work itself.

L-E-V, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s dance company, presented Killer Pig this week at the Reading 3 Club in the Port of Tel Aviv. The choice of venue is indicative as well, it sets a certain tone: music, alcohol, and the anonymity of writhing bodies on the dance floor. Yet the seating arrangements were quite comme il faut, in neatly numbered rows facing a slightly elevated stage – intimacy at a distance.

The evening opened with Sara, a short work about ten minutes long. Clad in black bodysuits, the dancers seemed to emerge from the darkness. At first dancing mostly in place, standing in a cluster, one discerns small hinged movements, dark liquid undulations. At one point a dancer – Rebecca Hytting – stands apart from the group. A whispered voice is heard from within the music, Rebecca appears to be singing. A mood makes itself felt as one identifies a word or phrase: “We want control of our bodies.” Hands cover the eyes, poke into the mouth, clasp one another in a gesture of prayer. A tortured small gem of a dance.

Killer Pig - performed by L-E-V Sharon Eyal-Gai Behar Dance Company/Photo: Gil Shani
Killer Pig – performed by L-E-V Sharon Eyal-Gai Behar Dance Company/Photo: Gil Shani

Killer Pig is an excruciating, demanding piece. The dancers are like an army of naked, sweaty soldiers, yet each is intensely individual, and the effect is mesmerizing. Eyal exudes a languid, long-limbed sensuality that is expressed in her choreography, and embodied in the dancers. Walking on tip-toe, shoulders moving in a particular tilt, torsos long, an indifferent elegance suggesting hidden force. That force is expressed as the work progresses, drawing the viewer in with its physicality and unrelenting rhythm.

Watching Eyal’s choreography I often feel that there is something very tribal and primal. There is a strong sense of the group, making it all the more striking when a dancer stands apart, following a different trajectory. Fairly early in the piece, Rebecca Hytting comes forward, her gaze steady, defiant, daring, and she begins to move – asymmetrical, long limbs extending, angular, sensual.  Later, there is a brief encounter between Gon Biran and Doug Letheren, somewhere between wrestling and manic dancers at a rave they go at each other, and also with each other, a quick flash of arms entwined in corps de ballet mode.

There is an inherent violence and suffering in this work, but it is not without humor and delicacy; the swiftly changing mood contributes to the mesmerizing effect and is a testament of these dancers’ talents. Leo Lerus moves in a mobius-like repetitive cycle, his eyes shine with a mad gleam, locking into the gaze of all who watch. Yet when this sequence plays out, it is followed immediately by something very different, the dancers circle in a bouncy step, and a hand rises into the air, tracing a jaunty serpentine shape. It is only a moment, and then it is gone.

The connection between movement, music, and light, is profound, it would be impossible to separate the elements. It’s really a collaboration between these artists: Sharon Eyal, Gai Behar, Ori Lichtik and the master light designer Avi Yona Bueno. The bodies of the dancers work with the light, whether they move as dim shadows, or in the full glare, or are caught by a glancing wave, an illuminated outline. Perhaps it is the music that makes this intensity possible, the rapid transitions and articulated gestures riding on the beat. I cannot say enough about the performance of the dancers, they are all exceptionally talented. It’s never just about performing the choreography, it is embodying a powerful force that can express itself in hip-thrusting, leaping grand moves, or in the smallest gesture of a hand.

Wish I had photos of this work to show you what I’m talking about, but I don’t, so use your imaginations people!

Killer Pig
Choreography: Sharon Eyal; Co-choreographer: Gai Behar; Costume design: Sharon Eyal, Gai Behar; Sound mix/Music: Ori Lichtik; Lighting design: Avi Yona “Bambi” Bueno; Dancers: Rebecca Hytting, Doug Letheren, Leo Lerus, Gon Biran, Keren Lurie Pardes, Dominic Santia.