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Impressions of L-E-V’s “OCD Love” at The Joyce Theater

Impressions of L-E-V’s “OCD Love” at The Joyce Theater
Theo Boguszewski

By Theo Boguszewski
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Published on January 31, 2017
Members of L-E-V in "OCD Love." Photo by Eyal Landesman

Creators: Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar

Sound Artist and Live Music: Ori Lichtik

Lighting: Thierry Dreyfus

Costumes: Odelia Arnold in collaboration with Rebecca Hytting, Gon Biran, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar

Dancers: Gon Biran, Darren Devaney, Shamel Pitts, Mariko Kakizaki, Leo Lerus and Keren Lurie Pardes


Israeli Company L-E-V makes its debut at The Joyce Theater, presenting OCD Love, which began its world tour in December of 2016. L-E-V is comprised of Sharon Eyal formerly of Batsheva Dance Company, and Gai Behar, nightlife producer and Eyal’s partner in life and art. The pair collaborates with Ori Lichtik, a renowned Israeli DJ.

OCD Love centers on a love that never hits its target: Two people are well intentioned yet fail to connect. This concept has much potential, but the actual dance is filled with holes and, most frustrating, proves unrelatable.

A dancer in a black lace leotard outstretches her arms. Behind her is another dancer whose hand is over the outstretched artist's mouth.
Members of L-E-V in OCD Love. Photo by Regina Brocke

A lone male struts across the stage, his eyes narrowed, his arms flung behind him, as he flaunts the hyperextension of his shoulders. Like a rooster, he appears determined to impress me or to challenge me. Throughout the piece, the cast twists and contorts their sinewy bodies into inhuman forms, their faces frozen in penetrating stares. At one point, a chorus of men beat on their chests with their fists, opening their arms to the audience in a gesture of bravado. It’s overwhelming, in both the formidability of the dancers and their forthrightness to intimidate the audience.

OCD Love has no boundaries, no form. Everything, even in the movement vocabulary, is fair game. Gaga, created by Eyal’s former boss Ohad Naharin, is a huge influence on her work. Delicious, sensual movement mixes awkwardly with ballet steps: a balancé, a pas de basque, and then club-like grinds and shimmies. Obsessive, repetitive gestures such as splayed, clawing fingers and punching fists convey the agony of love gone wrong.

Dancers wearing black briefs stumble behind themselves with their hands around their necks. Two dancers perform deep back bends.
L-E-V company members performing OCD Love at The Joyce Theater. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.

OCD Love translates the raw, unfiltered energy of a nightclub to the proscenium stage. Lichtik layers driving beats with orchestral arrangements to create a pulsing energy that presses forward relentlessly. Often, the six dancers writhe together, dazed and dazzled by the circular, repetitive unison. 

Again, the experience is exclusionary. I’m resentful the performers are having this impassioned, euphoric experience that I don't get to share. I feel like I’m standing outside the club, gazing longingly through the window.

Dancers in black briefs and leotards sway the hips and gesticulate. Two men in the background stand with legs together.
Gon Biran, Shamel Pitts, Leo Lerus and Keren Lurie Pardes of L-E-V performing OCD Love at The Joyce Theater. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.

A ruthless intensity pervades the work. A solo in which Mariko Kakizaki unfolds her limbs at a glacial pace, like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly is absolutely stunning. But, like a hammer with a stubborn nail, the vigor never lets up. What is powerful at first becomes numbing, and then worse, boring. 

Confirming that this piece is about them — their sensory experience, their fabulousness, OCD Love ends with the curtain closing as the dancers continue to move. It seems the piece began and will end without our presence. As for us, we’re left lonely and dissatisfied. 

Is this art? Absolutely. Is this brilliant? Maybe. Do I like it? No.


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Check out our other IMPRESSIONS here, including Impressions of Mr. Gaga  — A Documentary on Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company
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