As part of the Dance programme of this year’s International Festival, L-E-V Dance Company bring sister performances of OCD Love and Love Chapter 2, performing on alternate nights at the King’s theatre.
The Love Cycle is the brainchild of Sharon Eyal who co-founded the company in 2013 with Gai Behar and Ori Lichtik. The first instalment, OCD Love, is a piece inspired by a poem by Neil Hilborn about a woman equally loves and struggles with the OCD in her partner, and how it eventually puts too much strain on their relationship. Eyal and Behar manage to capture this with the disjunction and agitation of the movements as the piece progresses.
OCD Love begins in near darkness with a single dancer lit from above. Her movements begin fluid, and she is eventually joined by others; it is a slow beginning, focusing on independence or singularity and progressing into a relationship with other dancers on stage. The emptiness of the dancer’s movements and the almost mechanical precision with which they are executed reflects the mental struggle of the title, and juxtaposes the vastness of the emptiness above them visually as the black depths of the stage stretch on into nirvana. The further we are drawn in the more disjointed the visual becomes, fracturing and splintering as the focus is pulled from one dancer to another with no obvious structure. The flow of it seems caustic and dangerous, with proximity but no support.
There is little physical interaction between the dancers and most of the work is individual fragments stitched together under the abrasive soundscape that overbears the performance. There is no focus on one particular dancer, with moments of duet and solo interspersed throughout. It is a long drawn out process that stretches past comfort and out of balance with emotional simplicity; this OCD, this clutter of desires, can eclipse the real value of love.
Love Chapter 2, although created a year afterward, is an extension of this idea. It explores what happens once the obsession of love has been surpassed and the devastation of life without it begins to feel real. Eyal describes it as ‘post the illness...dreaming in our blind body’ and there is a dreamlike quality to it. There is even less physical contact between the dancers in Chapter 2, highlighting the isolation; although performing as a group, each dancer seems entirely alone like each is on their own layer of Perspex held in front of a harsh light. Every now and again they shuffle into order and perform in unison, only to fall out once more into their individual, warped movements.
The stage looks bigger due to the sparse lighting and the dancers all wear pale grey, so that against the black box theatre they are reminiscent of a Van Eyck painting. Both choreography and music are very similar to the first instalment with physical motifs returning slightly altered and movements that may have been consolidated now fragmented and apart.
Both pieces are stand alone and can be seen independently; but as Eyal says, the joint encounter clarifies more elements. There are many similarities between the two with subtle differences best highlighted when seen in conjunction.
The Love Cycle is not an enjoyable experience, it is not an easy night at the theatre; watching is hard work and intention on the part of the audience. Much like love, it strikes as something that will either resonate with a person or it won’t, there is no middle ground and no apology. Everybody feels love differently – L-E-V Dance company shows us how they feel theirs.
11th and 12th August Tickets £14-£32