Arkadi Zaides offered little relief to the expectant audience that gathered last night at the MAI for Quiet. In this explosive response to Israel’s splintered political landscape, Zaides and three fellow performers thrashed and tumbled to a score of thumping bass punctured by screams and shouts. Tending much more towards the psychological than the political, this work provides an interesting and sincere platform to explore the latter.
This seems to be the season for Israeli choreography in the city, with Barak Marshall’s Harry performed by BJM this past September, and Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother scheduled for November. Flashy and uproarious, these works and their makers seem almost vulgar when compared with Zaides’s more modest mergence of movement and sound.
Both Marshall and Shechter work predominantly outside of Israel’s dance scene and have, in the past, presented political inequality as a much more global concern. That Zaides and his team define Quiet’s landscape and struggle as personal is the work’s greatest strength.
Quiet is a collaborative project, composed of both Jewish and Arab dancers, actors, and designers. Begun in 2009 following the events in Gaza, it integrates new movement and speech into a structure informed by performers’ ongoing responses to the volatile landscape.
A wall etched in bright graffiti stretches the length of the set – a physical and metaphoric symbol of Tel-Aviv’s many divides. Against this, the four male performers work their way through a strenuous routine that Zaides’s himself has described as “four solos, each voice informed by the others’.”
Quiet’s choreography seems almost institutionalized, drugged. Dancers appear to be traumatized by inner voices, unaware of the presence of other bodies until literally set upon. The work’s violence rests in the personal landscape – that of the body and the mind – and enforced by thrusts, shakes, and screams.
When bodies come together they push and repel but rarely, I would say, dance. In a striking moment, one man places his hands and mouth to the head of another and speaks against it, filling it with noise. To the audience the sound is barely audible, but to the man being held, it is deafening, causing him to writhe in pain.
Quiet is intriguing and stays with you long after the fact.
Last chance to catch Quiet at the MAI tonight. Show starts 8pm.