The point about this moment was that it exposed all the lurking emptiness in Ohad Naharin's 75- minute piece. Advertised as a study of the 'madness' of contemporary living, it was full of devices that signalled dislocation, brutality and contradiction. Dancers spat mad and angry monologues against the slow and civilised poignancy of Vivaldi's sacred music: they fired revolvers; they kissed and wrestled with desperate vehemence. At best their gestures surprised or provoked. But for all their solemn posturing about the bedlam of the human condition, there was little going on to make us care.
The reason was largely Naharin's opportunistically muddled methods. Undigested movement metaphors had been grabbed from anywhere, theatrical gestures had been jumbled into a lazy image of chaos, and in its failure to develop a language of its own the piece was effectively dumb. A rare exception - where Naharin created a sustained and absorbing dance image - was an early passage where the 14 dancers moved through a quiet ritual of renewal. To the sound of splashing water, they danced as a collective body - ripples of movement within a single performer eddying out to form currents and counter-currents through the whole group.
At moments like these you saw the strength of the dancers, who came across as committed, disciplined risk-takers. They moved with a raw, tough energy, they could also speak and fairly impressively sing. But if Naharin's choreography hadn't much to say beyond its own showy delirium, it also didn't give the dancers much of a chance to grow. In the work's puzzling finale, the whole company were hymned by a spookily distorted version of Doris Day's 'Que sera sera'. Trapped as the dancers were in Naharin's impersonal and glossily aggressive choreography, it was hard to know whether this implausibly cheery note of resignation was meant for us or for them.
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