Vertigo’s Birth of the Phoenix Returns to Suzanne Dellal

Birth of the Phoenix – Vertigo Dance Company/Photo: Yoel Levy

Rising like the phoenix, the Vertigo Dance Company will perform Birth of the Phoenix, live, at the Suzanne Dellal Center on Tuesday, June 30th and Wednesday, July 1st.  Even in the 21st century, this digital, virtual age, people can still gather together and experience wonder – I wrote those words in 2014, after seeing the Vertigo Dance Company perform Birth of the Phoenix at the Suzanne Dellal Center, and today they are more relevant than ever. In the attempt to slow the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic, we have kept apart from one another for months now, relying on technology to communicate and connect. But it is not the same, and can never be the same as live presence. Now, as restrictions are lifted, we can look forward to a revival of cultural life to lift our spirits.  A sunset performance intended for all ages will take place at 19:30 each of the evenings, and there will be a second performance at 21:30. The performances will be preceded by a conversation with choreographer and Vertigo Artistic Director Noa Wertheim.

Vertigo Dance Company’s Birth of the Phoenix is a work of enduring power and beauty, dazzling in its sensual, spiritual force. The dance takes place outdoors, like the Phoenix, appearing and disappearing in different places. Choreographed by Noa Wertheim, Birth of the Phoenix is performed inside a geodesic bamboo dome. Last night at Suzanne Dellal, people gathered at twilight in the courtyard. Flames dancing in the approaching darkness, torches marked the perimeter as one entered the dome to sit on benches and wooden chairs. At the center, a circle of dark brown earth. Waiting, people talk and look at one another, becoming a temporary community.

Birth of the Phoenix – Vertigo Dance Company/Photo: Yoel Levy

The dancers enter with ceremonial solemnity. Wrapped in red blankets resembling ceremonial robes, they take their places, kneeling beside the circle. One man slowly removes his covering and enters the circle to lie on the ground, his naked torso touching the earth, an image of death. And so it begins…

What takes place inside that circle is a mesmerizing dance at once intensely physical and at the same time evoking the sense of ritual. Sensual slow curving motions metamorphose into strong, fast, leaps and twirls. The dancers are at the center, with people all around, as they perform these rites, they take us, the viewers, with them, and we all experience a transformation. All that we see is not calm, there are confrontations, challenges, forces between the dancers pulling in different directions, shifts in the balance of power. There is a sense of destiny and ritual, a dancer touches another on the forehead with two fingers, and the other falls slowly back, marked, perhaps doomed. There are moments of tender ambiguity – a man kneels behind a woman, holding her ankles, as she walks forward he is pulled along, dragged on the earth. Moments of powerful passion in a fierce duet between another couple, he towers over her petite frame, lifts and bends her down – yet she meets his gaze with a burning spark in her eyes, and she lifts and throws him too.

Ultimately, there is a sense of renewal, energy and exultation. The dancers are all strong and sensitive performers, drawing us into their sacred circle, and the music by Ran Bagno is transcendental. It’s a dance that leaves the viewer mesmerized, breathless. (from the Midnight East review, May 2014)

Ticket prices are 100 NIS/ 190 NIS for two tickets, and they may be purchased online from the Vertigo Dance Company via this link.

In accordance with health regulations, the number of tickets for each show is restricted to 250, with space between seats. All audience members must wear masks and have their temperature checked at the entrance.