Balletanz, Elisabeth Nehring


The three performers march in lockstep Right – Left – Right – Left, shaping the frame of an imaginary rectangle on stage. Their march is calm, determined but not aggressive - maybe they present an image of the sovereign military of the future?   
Then occurs the first change in the small uniformed formation of the two men in black and the woman in blue and white: marching backwards as well as forward, the steps cutting through the rectangle frame and the arms jolting. The semi-militant movement is beginning to show fragments of folk dance that convey both the positive and the problematic aspects of  their community.
The female dancer is breaking free from the uniformity. She is soon becoming the center of all movement on stage as well as the emotional focal point of the piece, displaying both activity and passivity. She approaches her two partners with merriment and joy but in return they grab her by the shoulders, toss her back and forth and put her in her place with gentle domination. 
The complex  mixture of opportunities and compulsions dictated by Collectivism - which allows individuality to a certain point and again forces it back into its place – is presented in magnificent simplicity by Oren Laor, Niv Sheinfeld and Keren Levi, that portray how the Israeli society with all its ambivalence is functioning  from the inside.  

Keren Levi is dressed in the colors of the Israeli flag, stands in the center of the stage and begins to open her mouth slowly until it becomes a terrifying crater. At first it seems that the heroic "Anthem of the seventh Israeli tank brigade"  is floating out of her mouth, the whole face is opening up to the pathos of the music. Later as the gaping mouth covers up half her face – it gradually resembles "The Scream" by Eduard Munk, an expression of bottomless horror. 

Suddenly the music seems to float violently back into her mouth, forcing her to either swallow or suffocate. Through this suction of militarism and nationalism we are looking into the desperation of an individual and its nation, locked in its own psyche and history, therefore painfully harming itself and others. 

In this scene Keren Levi could stand for many things: personification of the Israeli nation or its state, individual or collective, winner or victim, pure emotion or perversion of the emotion.   

That image with all its horror and contradiction  leaves a haunting  imprint that lingers even to the last part, where the 3 dancers support each other in friendly care. The two men create a seat for her with their bodies, carrying her on hands and feet.  How real or fake this harmony is - they leave open. 
The collective manifests once again its capability of being functional, but not for long – with a friendly smile she leaves her partners alone on stage and walks out.
A collective with no members, a country with no nation, a nation with no emotion? 

 Laor, Sheinfeld, Levi "BIG MOUTH" In: TANZ, Zeitschrift für Ballett, Tanz und Performance. August/September 2010, Page 68.
Balletanz, Elisabeth Nehring