With Winter Variations, Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat takes an earlier idea and stretches it to breaking point. This hour-long duet repeats themes from his earlier Winter Voyage – and repeats them, and repeats them. It wears thin.
Gat is an emerging choreographer, one of a group to come from a strong Israeli dance scene – others include Ohad Naharin and Hofesh Shechter. Like Shechter, Gat favours loose, loping movements and strong male dancing. Winter Voyage, created in 2004, was a duet for Gat and his collaborator Roy Assaf. The two men prowled around a big, empty stage, with plenty of winding arm movements, an arm wrapped around the head or about the other elbow.
There was some dynamic force to this movement, which evaporates in this expanded version. Good moments fizzle out. Gat comes up with a striking, complicated lift. One man, lifted from behind, hooks his feet around his partner's knees. It makes them both look strangely foreshortened, their proportions changed as they move about the stage, still clasped together.
This odd, slightly creepy image loses force when it pops up again, to different music. Having run out of Schubert, Gat adds The Beatles' "A Day in the Life", a song by composer Riyad al-Sunbati, some Mahler. In Gat's own lighting design, the front of the stage is starkly lit, fading into shadows. The costumes are plain. The focus is all on the dancing, on the relations between the two dancers.
Sometimes the tension returns: when the two men slide into unison, when they vanish into darkness at the back of the stage. Then Gat does the same things again. He and Assaf are strong, fluid dancers, but they can't sustain interest for an hour.
The final image is new. Both men fall to the floor, but keep moving. One twitches on his back, shuffling almost involuntarily along. The other flops and dives across the stage, arching convulsively. By then, it's too late.