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Keren Levi at Theatre Kikker with unique documentary and smart performance.

Shelly Kling's documentary 'Inside Envelopes' does away with the brave image that dance imposes on itself. 'The Dry Piece', on the other hand, is a performance that goes beyond provocation and seduction with nudity. A fine combination.

'Inside Envelopes' is a unique documentary because it shows the reality of contemporary theatre and dance makers: working hard to bring an idea to fruition, without falling back on an existing recipe or classic methods. Creating a performance is always an adventure, with its attendant struggles, existential questions, arguments and disagreements. It is a practice that has been around for decades but is rarely portrayed. Which is a pity, because it would give a wider audience an inside look at a highly inventive and life-changing practice.

Israeli documentary-maker Shelly Kling followed choreographer and dancer Keren Levi and her likewise dancing younger sister Reut as they prepared the production 'Envelopes' (2010) together with musician and composer Tom Parkinson and his twin brother and musician Alex, without a script ready. Everyone has input, everyone bears responsibility, Kerin Levi as choreographer and initiator just a little bit more.



A nothing-insightful jack-of-all-trades, Levi has to get things done. A scene with the management of co-producer Grand Theatre in Groningen is telling. 'What more can I do, than just make a beautiful performance?", Levi wonders aloud. Like a true contemporary maker, she feels she is always pushing the limit, always asking something more, something new, something different from her colleagues, not only in the artistic - but also in the production process. Tom Parkinson puts it smilingly at the end of the film: it may have been hell from time to time, but everyone has once again jumped over their own shadow.

A quartet also performs in the performance 'The Dry Piece'. Levi does not dance with them, did the choreography and together with Assi Weitz the video installation, which plays a major role in the performance. Once again, Tom Parkinson created the music. Inspired by Naomi Wolf's 'The Beauty Myth', Levi confronts the viewer with the nudity of four young women. As Levi notes in the documentary: by using formal means, she can not only bring out the emotional value of something, but also question it.

The Dry Piece is kaleidoscopic. The women slowly disappear in a halickening stream of staged and projected images. The in and in symetric choreography for camera-eye and audience makes you, the spectator, dream away in an unparalleled, decorative language of form, reminiscent of Bellini, of fractals or of Hollywood musicals from the 1930s. The relentless flow of female nudity not only fascinates but also confronts, because it is fabricated on the spot. Pornographic connotations, just actors doing their best, fellow spectators who can't get enough - it raises the question of where the line is drawn. What is dancing interest and what is being reduced to an obscene, attractive object?



Good to know
Inside Envelopes and The Dry Piece can still be seen on 28 May at Theatre Frog, Utrecht, start 20:00. 'To Band', work by Keren Levi and Tom Parkinson with young people, can be seen 31 May and 1 June at Theatre Frascati, Amsterdam. For more info see homepage Keren Levi

Fransien van der Putt

Fransien van der Putt is a dramaturge and critic. She works with Lana Coporda, Vera Sofia Mota, Roberto de Jonge, João Dinis Pinho & Julia Barrios de la Mora and Branka Zgonjanin, among others. She writes about dance and theatre for Cultural Press Agency, Theatererkrant and Dansmagazine. Between 1989 and 2001, she mixed text as sound at Radio 100. Between 2011 and 2015, she developed a minor for the BA Dance, Artez, Arnhem - on artistic processes and own research in dance. Within her work, she pays special attention to the significance of archives, notation, discourse and theatre history in relation to dance in the Netherlands. Together with Vera Sofia Mota, she researches the work of video, installation and peformance artist Nan Hoover on behalf of Author posts

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