Love Cycle: OCD Love

A profoundly disturbing show, OCD Love (part one of Love Cycle) is produced by Israeli L-E-V dance company with original and technically difficult choreography by Sharon Eyal in collaboration with Gai Behar and influenced by his background as a DJ.

A heart-rending show, initially alienating but ultimately expressing deep understanding for this pitiless mental disorder.

'Lev' is Hebrew for 'heart' and so inspired by slam poet Neil Hilborn's OCD about the attraction and repulsion of his lover for him, this show aptly concentrates on the dysfunctional relationships and loneliness of this condition.

The performance starts with a single female dancer, Rebecca Hytting, spotlit on a darkened stage. Her strikingly long arms stretched above her head at times are almost pulled out of their sockets. When a male, Darren Devaney, enters with outstretched arm in front of him in a rigid pose, he circles the stage but ignores her. Each is focused on their own interior world, a mental state that has seized and controls them.

For a lesser choreographer, it would have been easier to imitate repetitive ticks and spasms of OCD symptoms, but this is mainly left to the techno soundtrack by Ori Lichtik starting with a ticking like a metronome, then swelling with cello-like tones and looping sequences. Eyal's genius is to portray the disorder of the mind, focused on its terrifying interior landscape, unable to escape and to graphically express this through the contortions of the five dancers locked into strange poses. Deep pliés, insectoid arms like a preying mantis, the drooping wrists of Nosferatu, the dancers are in the helpless throes of movements at times so extreme, especially the backward bend of Mariko Kakizaki (whom we presume is the lover attracted by an OCD dancer) which symbolises the dangerous effect on the physical and mental well-being of such a love. Indeed, one is in fear that the dancer really will damage herself. That rigorous training for this choreography is evident from the muscular bodies of the dancers.

The more grotesque the movements the more chilling the affectlessness of their disassociation from each other. Ugliness dominates the aesthetic. Black costumes, for the females so skimpy that the cheeks of their buttocks bulge out and for the males, Gon Biran, with a nappy-like bulging pad in front, and only a thong behind so that his muscular buttocks are exposed. The other, Darren Devaney, bare-torsoed and with black leggings and socks which weirdly reveal only part of his calf. He too later becomes infantilised later as he sucks his thumb. There are moments when couples seem to communicate, notably a rapt encounter by two of the females who then rush around the stage in joyous liberation but these moments are few.

Torn between admiring the dancers' technical ability, the brilliant choreography and yet feeling uncomfortable by the mental states portrayed, the last image as the dancers all move in a bunch towards the back of the stage evokes pity as one female turns her face to the audience in a plea for help. Her head is ruthlessly wrenched back by one of the others to face away. A heart-rending show, initially alienating but ultimately expressing deep understanding for this pitiless mental disorder.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

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The Blurb

Sharon Eyal is one of the most exciting choreographic talents to emerge in recent years. Working with multimedia designer Gai Behar, she formed L-E-V Dance Company, creating work that is stark, uncompromising and fiercely beautiful, powerful in its expression of emotion and obsession.

L-E-V Dance Company's Love Cycle is formed of two complementary but standalone shows at this year's International Festival. 

OCD Love, is an intensely kinetic dance piece that collides together frenzied passion and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is inspired by slam poet Neil Hilborn’s brutally funny OCD, which describes a woman charmed then exasperated by the inescapable obsessions of her partner. Pitting a single female dancer against a corps of males, OCD Love dissects her torn sympathies – as she strives for freedom from them yet depends on their control.

Presented separately, its companion piece Love Chapter 2 is L-E-V Dance Company’s most recent work, premiered in 2017. It is a dark, provocative piece of startling intensity, one that begins where love breaks down and stares unflinchingly at isolation and loneliness. Using powerful gestures and captivating imagery, it explores the connections between all of us – and what we are left with when they break down.

Pushed relentlessly forward by the pulsating techno beats of DJ Ori Lichtik, these two shows by L-E-V Dance Company are uninhibited, provocative and exhilarating, like no dance works you’ve seen before. They ask: is there anything more unexplainable than love?

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Sharon Eyal, Gai Behar Creators

Ori Lichtik Music
Thierry Dreyfus Lighting designer
Odelia Arnold Costume designer

More information about some of the artists:

L-E-V Dance Company
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