Vertigo and the Loom
Vertigo was founded by Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al in 1992. Stemming from their first duet, grew a company, a dance school, and an eco-arts village. Today, Vertigo is a household name in Israel and giant posters promote their work at busy traffic intersections. Nice job!
Null, as in Zero?
“So, what does Null mean?” I asked my Hebrew-speaking friend. Her failed attempt to explain it to me left me with a general idea that it is something that used to be put on baby cots in the past. “Something like a mobile?” I asked. “No. Not a mobile” she replied. “More like cotton strings that were put above the cot….”. I resort to checking Google translate and find that Null means Loom. “Great!” Next, I look up Loom in a dictionary… Loom is a noun meaning 1. A hand- operated or power- driven apparatus for weaving fabrics, containing harnesses, lay, reed, shuttles, treadles, etc. 2. The art or the process of weaving. 3. The part of an oar between the blade and the handle. I decide to stop analysing the title.
When the curtains come up we are presented with a stylish and stark, black and white set, a similar style to Vertigo’s last piece ‘Mana’. The backdrop is a lit white screen and on the left side of the stage stands three sinks complete with faucets and running water. I am keen to see where that is going to go.
To a watery violin soundtrack, the dancers begin with subtle movement. The women, in a typical feline and hippy manner, grab the men by their throats. In the absence of a description in the programme I take this to symbolise that they are exerting some sort of power over the men. The nine dancers ride the momentous flow through the space in an organic way. They move softly in and out of the floor like black and white pumas (the cats, not the shoes).
Build it Baby!
Noa Wertheim is a master of constructing space. She is great at creating memorable shapes and formations. This piece relies heavily on mass unisons to leave an impression. The many bodies moving in time serve as building blocks in motion framing or enhancing what should be highlighted. I am a great fan of unison as the base for something to come in and out of. However, towards the end of the one hour piece the unisons had become predictable. Which is not bad, but definitely comfortable.
Water, Water on the Wall…
Well into the piece I thought, ‘Why go through all that trouble to actually have water flowing on stage if you aren’t going to use it?’. At one point a female dancer wet her hair and dragged her head across the stage in a bendy and seductive way. Not enough to convince me of the usefulness of the water though. Is there going to be a water fight? Is someone going to have a bath on stage?
I must mention the costumes, which seemed to be more or less individual for each dancer, with the women in white and the men in black. Notably eye catching were the two men’s costumes that consisted of high-waisted tulle skirts and 80's style blazers on bare torsos. This was surprisingly sexy on bald men. Speaking of which, there was one bald man, Eyal Vizner, who danced a solo that would leave anyone speechless. An androgynous scene if I have ever seen one, this captivating dancer threw himself across the stage in a graceful manner like a giant black swan.
There is some beautiful partnering work both with men and women and also just for the men. I like that these men dance their masculinity. There is no campness in their movement quality. They are delicate and graceful at the same time as they eat the white space in their dark costumes. I could watch an entire piece just of the men throwing each other about and tumbling through the air and would be transfixed throughout.
Finally, the moment I have been waiting for arrives. The dancers make use of the water! They walk to the side. They wet their faces and their hair. Then they walk back onto the stage and begin to throw their heads backwards forcefully with a loud exhalation, splashing water behind them, until the lights went down. Not the kind of innovative use I had expected, but the sinks looked good.
I really like Vertigo’s work and their movement language. I would recommend that anyone go and see them. They work a lot on pleasing the eye and are architectural in a way that allows anyone to appreciate the aesthetic drama that transpires on stage. I also give thumbs up to the dancers and costumes.
Null will be showing at Suzanne Dellal
in November and December 2011
and in different parts of the country in early 2012
Tickets are 100-120 NIS.