The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, August 11, 2022

Exposing the heart in a brutal dance of love
Members of the dance company L-E-V perform “Chapter 3: The Brutal Journey of the Heart,” at then Joyce Theater in New York, Feb. 22, 2022. In this final section of a trilogy exploring aspects of love, the heart is both muscular and tender. (Julieta Cervantes/The New York Times.

by Gia Kourlas

NEW YORK, NY.- Sometimes it’s hard to feel what you know a choreographer wants you to feel.

In the case of “Chapter 3: The Brutal Journey of the Heart,” there is a lot of purposely awkward positioning of taffy-supple bodies: arched backs, far-flung arms, wide and ever-deepening pliés. This evening-length work, performed by the company L-E-V, dances — and winds — its way around themes related to the anguish that love brings. There is pleasure in the pain.

It helps to know that "lev" means “heart” in Hebrew. In this final section of a trilogy exploring aspects of love by the company’s artistic directors and founders, Sharon Eyal — formerly a star of Batsheva Dance Company and, for a time, its house choreographer — and Gai Behar, the heart is both muscular and tender. Once the chest is fully released with arms trailing behind the back, the body is a showcase of vulnerability.

But this “Brutal Journey,” making its U.S. premiere at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday, is a meandering trek as six dancers display their sensuality with such forcefulness that it slips into parody. Is it trippy? Not really. The choreography aligns itself unabashedly with Gaga, the movement language developed by Batsheva’s longtime artistic director, Ohad Naharin; it can be hypnotic, but here it is static.

“Brutal Journey,” which unfolds over an hour to a dreamy soundscape laced with percussion by Ori Lichtik, feels like many knockoffs — of Gaga, of a dance party in a Gaspar Noé film, of a fashion show. The costumes are by Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of Christian Dior Couture, who outfits the dancers in tattooed unitards, each with a red heart on the left side of the chest. It’s a bit much.

The program notes include a selection of words by Eyal, including “Silence. Dryness. Emptiness.” There is also a quote from Hanya Yanagihara’s overwrought, at times brutal novel “A Little Life,” which reads, “things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”

It’s true that the dancers give off a broken quality in their bodies. The piece, which shifts in intensity along with Alon Cohen’s dusty lighting, tries to create a sense of seamlessness, yet as one part bleeds into the next, the pacing stutters. The curtain opens on a single dancer balancing on demi-pointe with one hand protectively pinned to her chest and the other to her abdomen.

Shifting her hips, she teeters and twists on the tips of her toes, until two others enter from the wings swiping at their throats like feral animals. Eventually, more dancers join in; as they take small, mincing steps in unison — spreading out and converging back together — a lyric pokes through the melody: “You are one of those creatures.”

While there is something trancelike about “Brutal Journey,” it never lands in a strange-enough place. The monotony of the movement — especially those arms that twist like weathered branches on a tree — and the repetitive way in which the dance is structured, lends an airless and aimless quality to the performers’ quest for love or, perhaps, attempts to move beyond it.

The contrast of quick feet with slow-motion posturing soon becomes contrived; at one point, with the dancers forming a tableaux, two bend their arms around a third dancer in the center — as if tracing a heart around her. Voguing, or something loosely like it, enters the choreographic picture, but what is it building toward? Just as the dancers’ ferocity seems forced, this “Brutal Journey” feels archaic, a relic of the pre-pandemic world in which performance could more easily exist in a place of commercial flash. (Its premiere took place in September 2019.)

These dancers, wallowing in the pain of love and longing, never break your heart. They are caught up in sensation, yet no matter how deeply they feel, it doesn’t penetrate past the stage. As the curtain slowly falls, they keep moving — as if lost in a reverie of love.


Through Feb. 27 at the Joyce Theater, Manhattan;

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Today's News

February 25, 2022

James Turrell takes up curating, with a show by his hero

Colonial furniture to carnival games: Hindman's American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts Auction

Georgia Museum of Art receives gift from W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation

A new exhibition space gives Prague's art scene some spark

Weathervanes and windmill weights standout in Skinner auction

Basquiat's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict will lead Christie's New York 21st Century Evening Sale

Christie's to offer masterpieces by Lucas Cranach the Elder & Jan Den Uyl from the collection of Cecil & Hilda Lewis

Face to Face: Marc Quinn meets Franz Xaver Messerschmidt in new exhibition at the Belvedere

289 leading galleries to present at the Basel show in June

Eye Filmmuseum director announces her departure

Gary Brooker, singer for Procol Harum, dies at 76

Collection of Los Angeles art dealer and patron Gail Feingarten Oppenheimer comes to auction at Bonhams

Ana Navas wins the 15th edition of illySustainArt the award for young artists

Dieu Donné announces new Executive Director Serena Trizzino

Christie's announces live sale of Latin American art

Exposing the heart in a brutal dance of love

Frank Auerbach's Portrait of Debbie Ratclff III comes to Bonhams

Gagosian announces new shop in historic Burnlington Arcade in London

Black artists pioneered electronic music. This festival celebrates them.

Art Omi appoints Sara O'Keeffe as Senior Curator of the Sculpture & Architecture Park

Bruneau & Co. announces highlights included in the Estate Fine Art & Antique Auction

Car once owned by explorer & author Colonel Blashford Snell for sale with H&H Classics

San Diego Symphony launches major renovation of Jacobs Music Center

York Museums Trust announces move of CEO Reyahn King to a new post at National Trust for Scotland

Free spins without wagering requirement

Mining the Second Popular Cryptocurrency - Ethereum Mining

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful