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Central Park SummerStage
July 26th, 2008
The summer air is sweet and the greenery of Central Park welcoming as SummerStage celebrates Israel’s 60th anniversary with a free outdoor performance by two Israeli companies.
In Tami Dance Company’s PEEPDANCE, choreographer Nimrod Freed asks the audience to view the performers through peepholes in seven separate cubicles. Each viewer creates their own movement poem depending on the order and duration of their peeps.
A woman in a floral dress writhes on the floor, enjoying her own physicality. A thick old lady in too many layers moves confusedly. A man in prisoner’s garb with a hood covering his face scoops dry leaves. A lady in red teaches us a dance. Later she sobs and pulls at her body. A crane-like woman with big eyes sculpts herself into viscous coils.
The proximity to the dancers is unsettling. We are just inches away from their skin and sweat and runny makeup; their pleasure, obsession, and struggle. I feel as if I’m violating them. I watch other eyeballs watching through the peepholes. Freed seems to ask us, what is this voyeuristic pleasure? Joy or pain, it fascinates us. People sip coke and munch fries. It’s as if we’re ogling circus side-show monstrosities or Us Weekly. One minor complaint: the cheap-looking costumes and cubicles are a bit distracting. Interestingly, Freed’s side-show eclipsed the memory of the main draw of the evening: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
Rami Be’er’s Kef Kefim jump-starts with a woman in an elegantly tattered gown whipping and thrashing like a lit fuse. She is gorgeous and too ephemeral. Her unbound movement and nuanced temperament never return throughout the rest of the show. An endless line of dancers in unfortunate nylon costumes march, shoulder-pulsing to blasting techno. A very long string of brash cookie-cutter dance routines (yes, routines) and tawdry romantic duets follow. Kicks, spins and leaps abound.
A few promising moments fizzle into more of the same. An endearingly quirky vaudeville moment with three men fades away. A group of women wrapped in long bamboo window shades swirl their skirts to create a stunning visual effect. But their empty bravado becomes tiresome. The dancers are undeniably virtuosic, with seemingly limitless explosive power, but they cannot save Kef Kefim. The audience eats it up though, so they must be doing something right.
Photo of Tami Dance Company in PEEPDANCE. By Eyal Landsman, courtesy Summerstage.