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Review: L-E-V OCD Love

An obsessive compulsive dance of love

Venue

    Minimal costumes, maximum impact: L-E-V
    Minimal costumes, maximum impact: L-E-V

    Israel has a thriving contemporary dance scene. Many of its current stars made their first impact at Batsheva Dance Company before leaving to work independently or form their own troupes. Now, more than ever, the international dance community is seeing the rich seam of talent emerging from Israel.

    L-E-V is a mere fledgling company; it was formed only three years ago by Jerusalem-born Sharon Eyal with Tel Aviv party producer Gai Behar, yet it is beginning to attract favourable attention.

    Eyal - a former Batsheva Dance Company associate artistic director and choreographer - has already received numerous awards for her work, and L-E-V's debut at Sadler's Wells on Monday shows just what an extraordinary choreographer she is.

    OCD Love is only 55 minutes long, a piece about love, seen through the lens of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Eyal says she was inspired to create the work after reading the poem OCD by Neil Hilborn (watch him perform his work on YouTube to get an insight into the condition). "It reflects me so much," she says. "I couldn't stop reading it. For me, it was already choreography, or a mould you can put your inspiration in, yourself in."

    The love portrayed is not, however, the happy-ever- after love we all yearn for, rather the "love that always misses, or lovers who keep missing each other" as Sharon explains. It does not make for easy viewing, as the dancers - there are six in the company - move and spasmodically jerk as they meet - or nearly meet - and part on the stage.

    They are lovers who keep missing each other

    Costumes are minimal: tiny black leotards or tight shorts revealing impressively ripped torsos and sinewy limbs. There is no scenery to speak of, and the stage is dimly lit - a little too dimly at the beginning. I'm all for setting the mood, but it is good to be able to make out what is going on from the stalls.

    The piece is set to music by Israeli musician, drummer and DJ Ori Lichtik. The heavy percussive sounds and rhythms fill the auditorium; the beat is strong, repetitive and pulsing, and the dancers respond, their extraordinary bodies forming and re-forming in contorted shapes.

    Their expressive port de bras is amazing - shoulders sometimes look as if they have been dislocated - and backs arch slowly backwards like those slow motion scenes from The Matrix. At other points, legs are raised en attitude, a movement straight out of the classical classroom, and hands repeatedly clasp throats and faces, in a disturbing manifestation of OCD.

    Although the piece is dark (literally and metaphorically), there is much to celebrate in the wonderful physicality of the dancers in choreography that is as original as it is thrilling.

    The Sadler's Wells audience, which was mostly made up of under-40s, absolutely adored it and gave the dancers a well-earned ovation.

    L-E-V may be virtually unknown here but, given the strength of Monday's striking performance, that anonymity will not last long.

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