Dallas — The poetic and the fierce took over the stage on Oct. 27 at Moody Performance Hall in one uninterrupted, hypnotic blast. The Israel-based Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company made its second appearance here under the auspices of TITAS, and as it did three years ago, fueled a state of something close to rapture.
The one-hour work called Horses in the Sky—a title both ambiguous and provocative—seldom let up on intensity that borders on the apocalyptic. It ebbed and flowed, surged and banked, but almost always with movement broad and free. The dancers move in wave-like formations, split up, form duos then sets with men only, then women only.
It begins with barefoot dancers fanning out on stage pitched forward, legs extended in deep plié. The music is harsh and grating, the light dim with a few bulbs hanging from one side. Much of the movement is low to the ground with bodies bent low, suggesting workers rushing to complete a harvest. There are also explosive leaps and looping turns that suggest wind churning up a wheat field.
To emphasize unity, all 16 dancers wear tan briefs, women in flimsy tops and men in loose shirts tied at the back.
There are constant shifts in mood and intensity, fueled by movement that can be almost still and at other times explosive, but also fueled by lighting that pinpoints a single dancer, dims, throws shadows on the ground or turns to smoke. But the most powerful element in those shifts in mood is the music—loud and cacophonous at one point, romantic at another. The crazy compilation of music includes, among others, Faultline, Björk, Thee Silver Mr. Zion, Elvis Presley, Micachu & The Shapes, and London Sinfonietta.
The dancers move as one most of the time, occasionally breaking into smaller groups. When all 16 dancers are on stage at once, however, and each one is breaking into a freewheeling variation of his or her own, the effect is magical. Even so, the overall impression is that of a communal group, alert and sensitive to each other’s presence. Little wonder that there is such unity as the company lives and works on a kibbutz in a far northern part of Israel.
The work has a cohesive integrity thanks to the fact that except for the music, everything from sets, lighting and costumes are the work of choreographer and artistic director Rami Be’er.
At the end, all the dancers appear barely visible in a dim light except for a long woman circling and circling in a wide arc, her body disappearing from view with every new turn. It is poetic and evocative, and tantalizingly mysterious.
» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.