Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Glance

Tel Aviv
December 9, 2010

What do you seek in an artist? Why one dancer and not another? There was a magic moment today during the Kibbutz Dance Company performance at Dellal which captured that question for me. I don't know that to a non-dancer it will quite resonate, but its worth a try. 

The new work from Kibbutz is a classic example of exhaustion bringing out the artist in the technician. The dance is long, the dancers rarely rest. While it wouldn't make sense to say any one of the exceptionally talented people on stage was "better" than another, it was still true that one above all the others caught my eye. She danced outside all the physical boundaries of her choreography. Her body was, if you will, inside out. Everything exposed. 

But that's not, oddly perhaps, what I'm writing about. 

30 or 40 minutes into the dance she was, finally, at rest. Seated stage right on a stool at the edge of the stage she, and all the women in the company, were facing in. Hands on thighs, watching the men in a cataclysm of movement. It seemed clear that the choreographic note for the women was to be impassive, staring directly ahead as though not involved. She couldn't do it. Still though her head was, her eyes were absolutely burning as she followed then entire dance in front of her. She was IN it. And it wasn't simply that she was watching. It was that she was in love with it -- and with the power of each individual dancing. If someone can be cheered on simply by the way their eyes glitter, then she was cheering for them as we all do for each other in a studio in a rehearsal. She followed everything. 

And, despite herself, she smiled at one point. Something challenging in the choreography, something that must have given the men trouble at some point, went just right. And it was a celebration in her eyes and a small, subtle smile.

As the section broke up, and the men went to their own chairs, she said something to the man who took his place closest to her. It was a cheer, a congratulations, an encouragement. 

Whatever the power of the dance, or the strength of the choreography or the message in the movement, days and weeks and months from now, when I remember little of the details of that dance, this woman, her chest heaving and her bangs glued to her forehead from sweat and effort, will still be with me. I think I could, and always will, be able to draw her eyes, and and write in my thoughts that smile. 

When I think of what captivates me about a dancer, from today on, she will always be a reference point.

A moment later she was gone, hurled into the dance again.

But her glance remained. 

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