About screenings of 'Inside Envelopes' and performances of 'The Dry Piece' in Kikker Theatre on May 28-29, 2013/ Fransien van der Putt

Keren Levi at Theater Kikker with a unique documentary and a clever performance
Fransien van der Putt

The documentary ‘Inside Envelopes’ by Shelly Kling does away with the virtuous image that dance has imposed upon itself. ‘The Dry Piece’, on the other hand, is a show that takes nudity beyond provocation and seduction. A great combination.

The documentary ‘Inside Envelopes’ is unique because it reveals the real issue for theatre and dance makers today: working hard to develop an idea without falling back on existing manuals or classical methods. Creating a show is a new adventure every time, with every struggle, existential question, argument and difference of opinion this entails. It is a practice that has existed for decades, but which is rarely presented to the world. A pity, because a wider audience would be thrilled to take a look behind the scenes of a world that is so very innovative and worldly wise.

The Israeli documentary film maker Shelly Kling has followed the choreographer and dancer Keren Levi and her younger sister, dancer Reut, musician and composer Tom Parkinson and his twin brother, musician Alex. The four of them are working on a show without having a script ready. They each bring in their own contributions, they each have a responsibility; Levi, as the choreographer and initiator, a little more than the others.

The show ‘The Dry Piece’ also features a quartet. Levi does not dance herself; she did the choreography and, with Assi Weitz, made the video installation that performs an important role in the show. Tom Parkinson made the music for this show as well. Drawing from Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, Levi confronts her audience with the nudity of four young women. And as Levi says in the documentary as well, by using a set of formal tools she is able to not only bring up the sentimental value of things, but also to put it up for discussion.

The Dry Piece is kaleidoscopic. The women slowly disappear into a hallucinating stream of staged and projected images. The perfectly symmetric choreography for the eye of the camera and that of the audience draws the viewer into an inimitable and decorative visual vocabulary that is reminiscent of Bellini, of fractals, and of 1930s Hollywood musicals. But the unremitting stream of female nudity is not just fascinating; it is also confronting because it is fabricated on the spot. Pornographic overtones, simply a set of actors doing their best, fellow spectators who cannot get enough of what they are seeing – it makes you wonder where the line is drawn. To what extent is this an interest in dance and to what extent is this being reduced to an obscene, attractive object?