Asylum By Rami Be’er: Dancing With Every Fibre Of Their Being

 

The Festival Theatre World in Brno has this year managed to put together a truly impressive introduction to the main programme. For two days in a row, Brno’s Mahen theatre hosted performances of Asylum by renowned Israeli choreographer Rami Be’er and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, giving the local audience the opportunity to experience the very best that contemporary dance has to offer. 

Asylum. Photo: Udi Hilman.

Asylum. Photo: Udi Hilman.

The charm of these Isreali dancers lies in the irresistible charisma and almost animalistic energy which comes through in both the minimalist yet daring and generous movements. Like the current of a river, it flows under their skin, even though they are motionless on the stage. Tension and release alternate with admirable precision, sensuality gives way to humour and the freedom of dance goes hand in hand with flawless body control. All this is apparent in the very first seconds of the performance when a solitary male character enters the stage with a megaphone hanging on his body. Subliminally, we feel anxiety and tension, possibly due to the symbol of a megaphone being so inextricably linked to military drills, conflict, and the organisation of the masses - in short, situations of rising tension in which the unnatural amplification of a voice works as a means of control or even oppression. Gradually, other dancers join the first character on stage until the whole group is present, all with perfectly synchronised, rhythmic movements, supported by the musical accompaniment’s captivating beat, composed by Rami Be’er himself in collaboration with Alex Claude. As for the choreography, what excels is the dancers’ ability, to the millimetre, to isolate individual parts of their bodies and perceive each other as a group, without losing the strong individuality of each performer. 

Gradually, on a stage flooded with light a series of short stories play out - through duets, smaller and larger groups, in short and lengthier solos. Together they create an image of human togetherness, in which inevitably a clear connection is in operation, irrespective of time, technical advancement, or geographical location. They particularly master the element of fear and power - the human bodies lose their identity, they are reduced to numbers and columns in formulas (repeated numbers also appear as part of the sound component of the performance), controlled by several, or even just one governing voice. A distinctive element becomes the relationship between the microcosm of the individual and their position and importance in the context of the group. As the dancers slowly split from the collective and rejoin them again, we understand the extent to which we can lose oneself, merge and conform. And yet the group is our home, a place where we belong and do not feel abandoned. A place with our shared values. Rami Be’er’s Asylum plays precisely with this dynamic and the, often conflicting, emotions which we experience in our daily lives. Where we belong, how to be alone, how not to submit and yet share the world with others, and where to return to when (willingly or not) we are separated from our roots?

Asylum. Photo: Udi Hilman.

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s aesthetic and the way it operates is built on life and community. It is also true that each dancer is a sovereign, solo performer. It is very noticeable in the ensemble’s performance as they manage to link together brilliantly and further highlight Be’er’s original movement vocabulary, which, to some extent, characterises the Isreali school of dance. It comes from the body’s inherent nature – its beauty and ugliness, strengths and weaknesses, from its sexuality and instincts, but also from calmness and self-control. It also features modified ballet elements, facial expressiveness, playing with details, and abrupt changes in dynamics. It has both insight and wit and is not afraid to push the boundaries and the dancers to the extremes of movement, both in terms of speed and flexibility. The performers have no other option but to dance with everything fibre of their being. The movement is so ‘colourful’ than there is no need to overly highlight anything else; simple, almost uniform costumes (the men wear dark grey t-shirts and trousers, the women black mini shorts and grey, sleeveless tops) and, above all, excellent lighting design which thus serves simply to underscore the body as the most significant performance element. 

The high level of the ensemble and Be’er’s style, refined over the years, are just one of the qualities which Asylum can offer us. The images and communication through which Rami Be’er delivers in his performance are, in their own way, timeless and relevant across cultures and generations. In the context of current events, it takes on an urgency and mercilessly displays a side of the world which we try not to see. Thousands of nameless figures, migrating from one country to another, thousands of voiceless faces, powerless to effect any change. Fear and upheaval, but also humanity and help. Bodies crouched in the dust, as we so often see in photos, which invoke pity in us but are also distant and surreal. Asylum finishes with a scene such as this, with motionless bodies laying down – the dancers breathe out and lose themselves in the fading light, like a memento of the unknown fate of those whose lives have become mere military statistics. 

 

Written at the performance of the 24th April 2022 at the Mahen theatre in Brno, as part of The Festival Theatre World Brno. 

 

Asylum
Choreography, scenography, and lighting design: Rami Be’er
Sound: Rami Be’er, Alex Claude
Costumes: Rami Be’er, Lilach Hatzbani
Choreography assistant, staging: Nitza Gombo
Sound assistant: Eyal Dadon
Asylum By Rami Be’er: Dancing With Every Fibre Of Their Being

Translation by Aaron Bohlman

Témata článku

AsylumRami Be er

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company

dance

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