From Iceland — SCREENSAVER: A Time to Weep, a Time to Laugh

SCREENSAVER: A Time to Weep, a Time to Laugh

SCREENSAVER: A Time to Weep, a Time to Laugh

Published November 5, 2004

A few minutes of watching, though, and it’s clear that, whatever the reasoning behind the selection, the work’s presence here should be celebrated, and not just because of the pretty video projections (designed by Be’er from Irit Batsry’s video trilogy “Beyond Utopia”). Rather, the piece is a joy to watch because Be’er possesses that surprisingly rare ability to combine individual steps into coherent dance phrases, and in this work he has pushed that facility, along with a willingness to try new things, to its limit. It also doesn’t hurt that the match between the choreographer’s movement style and the dancers’ training and sensibility is close to perfect.
The piece, performed to a recorded score of mixed modern and classical composers designed by Alex Claude, begins in screensaver mode. Floor to ceiling, the stage area becomes a screen and multiple projections of numbers, probably parts of dates, stream around in that familiar, fractal-like, computer-way. Behind a scrim, a woman in a short white dress writhes with a bustle. The house-lights dim, an entrance carpet is unrolled, and a projection of words from Ecclesiastes, “a time to weep/ a time to laugh/ a time to mourn/ a time to dance,” announces the work’s theme. We’re off, into a world that is somehow completely delineated by Be’er’s ingenious set of five platform beds.
In this world, screensaver time, when feelings are turned off and we move without thinking, dancers move in unison, each oblivious to the presence of the others. Often they’re each on their own mini-stage, a bed. The bed-world also includes a second mode, when we touch the space bar and say something. Here we have same-sex and opposite-sex love duets (sometimes two at once), and one pas de trois. The music is gentler, usually classical. The beds are used as beds, of course, but the frames stood-up with their supporting bars also function as ladders, and as casters of romantic trellis patterns.
Be’er’s roots are in the modern contract-and-release school, and he doesn’t abandon that style here. Somehow, though, he manages to avoid the clichés of the idiom, especially in the duets, and he also works to give us juicy new images, such as when five women stalk around on tip-toe, their arms arched like a child’s drawing of a seagull. His “Screensaver” pulls us in with its detailed movement, rich atmosphere and the confident self-awareness he has elicited from the dancers. Finally, though, the alteration of screensaver-section, love-connection scene becomes monotonous. The individual incidents don’t build to anything, and by about half-way through, what we will see next is no longer in question. A bit like a screensaver.
Shown on the main stage of the City Theatre.
7th, 12th and 21st of November
Tickets: 2.700kr, 2.200 for students
Contact 568-8000

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