Israel’s L-E-V is at the Playhouse Nov. 14-15. (photo by Gadi Dagon)
It feels like it’s all been leading up to this. In 2009, Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company performed at DanceHouse. In 2013, Norway’s Carte Blanche brought Corps de Walk, a work commissioned from former Batsheva dancer and choreographer Sharon Eyal and her partner Gai Behar, to DanceHouse. And, in two weeks, Eyal and Behar’s own troupe, L-E-V, will be at DanceHouse to perform House, a piece originally imagined for Batsheva.
The multiple-award-winning Eyal danced with Batsheva from 1990 until 2008, served as its associate artistic director from 2003-2004 and as house choreographer from 2005-2012. She began choreographing works for other companies in 2009, including Killer Pig (2009) and Corps de Walk (2011) for Carte Blanche. Eyal and Behar launched L-E-V in 2013, with musician, drummer and DJ Ori Lichtik an integral part of the creative team.
“I first saw the work of Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar in 2011 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival [in Becket, Mass.], and it was unlike anything else I have seen before – and I have seen a lot of dance,” said Jim Smith, producer at DanceHouse, in an interview with the Independent.
“When L-E-V had its U.S. debut, the New York Times referred to House as ‘a Hieronymous Bosch painting of an extraterrestrial rave.’ Visually, you can see these two very contrasting images at play together.
“I think the work being created by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar is very much of our time, as they appear to represent a cross-disciplinary confluence of movement, music, lighting, fashion, art and technology. And this very much appears to be part of the changing world around us.”
DanceHouse, which has “has taken on presenting larger scale dance works (i.e. larger number of performers and/or work requiring a significant level of technical support) that are recognized to be touring internationally,” presents “a mix of both Canadian and international companies and artists,” said Smith. “We are part of a larger national dance touring network that includes such organizations as Danse Danse in Montreal, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Harborfront in Toronto.”
Before its arrival in Vancouver on this fall tour, L-E-V will have performed House in Mexico (Guanajuato, Mérida and León), Calgary and Ottawa. After Vancouver, it heads to Los Angeles.
The blurb on the DanceHouse website reads: “With a sensibility seen here in 2013’s Corps de Walk, House’s fiercely talented dancers move with expressive precision as they explore what a house truly is: a home, a club, an asylum, a way station.”
House was first commissioned by the Batsheva Dance Company in 2011. It has developed since then.
“Changes always happen in the piece; it can only be an eye, movement or breathing, but there will always be more layers and renewals,” Eyal told the Independent. “The work is dynamic and alive, so is the music. You can always grow and add a new dimension, it is our fun. It’s not like in a museum – the ones who make it are people and each moment they feel something new.”
A combination of “a lot of talent” and “exhausting work alongside endless happiness,” L-E-V is seeing success. “The company is currently touring many places in the world and receives recognition and a lot of love,” said Eyal.
“In terms of the dancers, we began with eight dancers and reduced it to six. Now we have become more exact and effective. The dancers are wonderful and do not cease to amaze, develop and become more sophisticated. Each one of them is a different star in heaven.”
“The opportunity to present the work of Eyal with her own company of dancers is a way of giving a great range of exposure to her for Vancouver audiences,” said Smith. “She is of a generation and stage of development in her career as such dance artists as Barak Marshall, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Hofesh Shechter, and even Vancouver’s own Crystal Pite, all of whom are making big waves in the international world of dance, and all of whom have been presented on the DanceHouse stage in the past.
“In a relatively short time since leaving Batsheva, Eyal has enjoyed a meteoric rise both as a choreographer for hire and also with her new company of dancers, many of whom are ex-Batsheva dancers. In 2013, Eyal’s company made its North American debut [with House] at Jacob’s Pillow and this past summer was programmed at the prestigious Montpellier Danse festival in France.”
DanceHouse generally presents four productions a season at the Vancouver Playhouse and one in partnership with other presenters at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at Simon Fraser University, explained Smith.
“DanceHouse aims to reflect the range and diversity of the different stylistic approaches being seen in the development of dance as an art form. In many ways, we think about DanceHouse as providing a window on the international world of dance – with dance being a reflection on the world we live – like other art forms.”
House is at the Vancouver Playhouse Nov. 14 and 15, 8 p.m., with a pre-show talk at 7:15 p.m. For more information and tickets, as well as information on other DanceHouse offerings, visit dancehouse.ca.