22, August, 2018 | “Go forth and multiply” — commands the Genesis verse. An injunction that the dancer and choreographer Iris Erez masterfully declines in all her feral and very real contradictions, whose stigmata are sustained in part by her subtle and supple body.
She enters the scene in silence, wearing light-grey dungarees, vaguely post-apocalyptic. From the ceiling’s top right there hangs a enigmatic structure which lights up when required. Sometimes it looks like an animal’s skeleton, then a spaceship’s fuselage, then the bright lights of an operating theatre, then a stylised portrayal of the ascent of the Holy Spirit.
She puts her hands up in surrender. Then she crosses them behind her back and elegantly, even hieratically, clasps her own pelvis, like the wings of a fallen butterfly. She touches her hips with her hands. Playfully and ironically she tingles a nipple. She makes her large and expressive hands quarrel, indeed they give entire speeches and then she clenches them into fists that burst and spray the air around. The physical narration, impeccably constructed, entwines her serene, deep, clear-cut spoken words. And she surprises us with odd anecdotes about how wild boars tyrannise her otherwise idyllic town of origin.
She invites the audience to stand up, then sit down, then to pull out their cell phones to help them in reproducing wild animal noises. While we are enlivened and amused, we carry out the tasks, meanwhile she is setting-up a change of perspective for the show. Now reclining on the floor, through a new emotional geography, she exposes her belly and, like a secret laid bare, she slowly introduces us to her scars and tells us about them.
In her delicate body, so full of grace and yet capable of an expressiveness and facial mimicry that could cripple any other beauty, the prolific fertility of the human species as a biblical blessing turns into a clinical obsession and an infernal curse. And there, around that perfect navel impressed on her midriff, we explore her pain of procreation and, simultaneously, the wild and familial woe of the wild boars that roam her cherished community. We listen to her painful struggle to reproduce herself as well as the pangs of those who, like those wild boars, are destined to be hunted down and slaughtered. Around that navel we listen to a balalaika and a poignant and impenetrable women’s song, sang in Hebrew. From that womb we hear an opposing pain emerge and speculate on who has to confront the danger of extinction. Then Iris Erez’s dance stops; exhausted, surrendered, whist the audience seeks to flee from the extinction of wild boars and the very human desire to multiply.
The Body As an Archve
Text by Anna Trevisan
English translation by Jim Sunderland