Oded Ronen’s Capsule shimmers with the clarity of water, sunlit tides touching the shores of a remote island, in its blue depths and hidden currents revealing something primal, essential. It is an intimate work, moving and profound, with outstanding performances by Oded Ronen and Ligal Melamed. Reaching beyond the individual, it has an almost mythological feel.
Capsule premiered in Tmuna Theatre’s International Festival, taking place in the Amphi. It’s a demanding venue, as in this space everything is out there, close enough to touch. It’s a performance space that dares you to bare your soul in front of an attentive audience. As people entered the theatre, preoccupied with finding a place to sit, the two dancers moved, entangled, writhing against the wall on the other side of the door. Their movement suggesting a timelessness, as if we, the audience, have happened on something already in progress, perhaps something that began so long ago that its origins have been forgotten, something that will continue long after we all are gone.
Small, rectangular boxes randomly strewn, covered the floor, as the two dancers, entwined, moved slowly across the wall towards the corner of the room. Ambient sounds of birds and water evoke an Edenic scene. In their intricate, interconnected movement, they impede one another’s movement. Creating intriguing forms beautiful to behold as they interlock and block one another, the physical language emerges organically from the work’s themes.
The relationship of movement to concept is meticulously consistent throughout, with a vocabulary of imposed physical limitations embodying contradictions. In one sequence, Ligal dances with her arms pinned to her knees at the elbow, an almost impossible and certainly awkward position to maintain, yet resulting in images of surprising grace and beauty. Oded is a powerful dancer of muscular elegance. As a choreographer, he resists here the temptation of showcasing his talents; harnessing them to express the complexities of content, and empowering the work.
Almost imperceptibly, a process begins, as crawling on their bellies in a primordial mode, they alternate pushing away the boxes with their heads and bodies. Then, they rise up to stand, lifting one of the boxes between them, balanced on their chins. Moving boxes using their bodies and arms, yet never gripping with their hands, they build something that appears to be a wall, with all its accompanying associations. Are they keeping something in or keeping something out? Is this wall a protection or a limitation? Is it all of these things and more? There is a strong sense of origins, of the process of becoming, in the movement of this work. In the dancer’s gaze one recognizes a reflective curiosity, as if, in movement they are discovering and exploring the possibilities of the body and its motion. And all the while, the boxes are manipulated, moved into position. Something is being constructed, coming into being.
Curiosity, tenderness, violence, fear, and despair – embodied in a work of grace and strength, and ultimately, reflected upon with a sense of perspective infused with humor. It’s a work of extremes: the two are either entangled, each unable to move without the other, each unable to move because of the other; or else entirely apart. Much of the action is grounded, literally taking place on or close to the floor, or else anchored on one of the walls. Until, towards the end, after a scene of ruin and devastation, there is a sense of surrender and exhaustion that grows into something tender. The soft, slow, tangle of movement is suddenly writ large, in the center of the floor, with leaps and lifts as the dancers take and give movement to one another in a surge of energy.
Oded Ronen’s work investigates the most abstract concepts – identity, self, self & other, relationships, community, beliefs – in the most visceral, physical way. Taking apart and constructing, destroying and building, exploring the mythology of relationships, Capsule is a riveting emotional experience, marked by beauty and mystery.
Choreography: Oded Ronen; Dancers: Ligal Melamed (creative partner) & Oded Ronen; Music: Ronen Kozokaro; Costumes: Ligal Melamed & Oded Ronen; Lighting: Ofer Lachish; Artistic Advisor: Nitzan Cohen
Photos from the general rehearsal by Dan Ben Ari: