Review: L-E-V - OCD Love - Sadler's Wells

Performance: 19 & 20 September 2016
Reviewed by Josephine Leask - Tuesday 20 September 2016

L-E-V 'OCD Love'. Photo: Regina Brocke

Performance reviewed: 19 September

Israeli collective L-E-V, with its creative force of choreographers Sharon Eyal, Gai Behar and DJ sound artist Ori Lichtik, recalls the hedonistic, pulsing and thrilling club culture of the ’90s. Making their first London appearance as part of the Sadler’s Wells Debut series, in OCD Love, the six dancers embody narcissism, emotional dysfunction and a touch of S&M through their performative sexuality and costuming. Their bodies, hugged by black, leathery shorts and vests are pumped with adrenalin which bursts out in twitchy impulses through various body parts. The effect of this puckered movement, together with the dramatic lighting which plunges the bodies into light and shadow (by Thierry Dreyfus), is the creation of several tableaux in which bodies appear distorted and fragmented.

An opening solo is captivating because of this play of light and shadow on the body of a female dancer. She unfurls her limbs slowly but only bits of them are revealed. With her upper torso arching backwards, arms stretched above and away from her and only semi-visible she’s like a Giacometti sculpture. A man appears and trots round the stage, oblivious to her, caught up in his own neurotic dramas. He ignores her pleading backward bends, her aching longing.
The company is like a family supporting each of its members, guiding them through the emotional and physical discord that each dancer experiences. There are moments of solidarity when they perform in unison and here they resemble the compact, slickness of voguing divas but there’s also a disloyal cruelty when they form a line and use one body as a battering ram to hit another into submission. In another duet, two women share some intimacy but then one repeatedly mimes poking the other in the eyes and it rapidly disintegrates.

Throughout the dancers mince or march around the stage while flicking their wrists and gesturing wildly. Overall the aesthetic – a complex mixture of languorous stretches, balletic footwork athletic balances, grotesque gesticulations, staccato jumps and grimaces – is rivetingly decadent. Flashes of Javier de Frutos and William Forsythe are ever present in the choreography and scenes of medieval depictions of Hell spring to mind.

Eyal and Behar’s choreographic imagination is vivid, much of the inspiration is taken from poet Neil Hilborn’s text OCD and they apply the condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder to the already complicated business of relationships: connections between lovers fail to be made, affection is misunderstood, flirtation and lust is mis-directed to the wrong person. It’s a topical theme in 21st century, living with pressures from social media and the attraction of image over substance especially in the worlds of fashion and media.

The other big attraction of OCD Love is Lichtik, who DJs live throughout, (although sadly he can’t be seen.) He cuts classical anthems with hard-core techno music and beats which raise the roof of Sadler’s Wells. It’s a massively enjoyable sound score which ebbing and flowing throbs with intensity. Although it works in a theatre, it would be even nicer to experience in a club.

Continues at Sadler’s Wells until 20 September

Josephine Leask is a lecturer in Cultural Studies on the BA (Hons) degree course at the London Studio Centre and London correspondent for The Dance Insider.

Main photo: Regina Brocke

Leave a comment

You must be signed in to post comments.

Sign in now

What’s On