You can't spell OCD Love without Gaga. No, really. L-E-V Dance Company's Spoleto performance, OCD Love, draws heavily upon the practice of Gaga dance, a movement language created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. L-E-V choreographer Sharon Eyal danced with Naharin at Batsheva Dance Company, so the influence makes sense. And it's become an integral part of OCD Love's dancers' lives.
"It's a crucial part of the work," says dancer Rebecca Hytting of Gaga. "It's preparing for the day and learning about your body, learning about why you're doing it." Hytting has been with L-E-V since Eyal and Gai Behar started the company in 2013 and yet the Gaga warmups have yet to grow stale for her. "Every class you are renewing. You have roots but the tree is growing and growing — it's really exciting," she says.
Gaga, if it isn't already obvious, is hard to describe. The classes that Hytting is referring to are predicated "on a deep listening to the body and to physical sensations ... the research of Gaga is fundamentally physical, insisting on a specific process of embodiment." This deep dive into one's own self is what OCD Love is all about, taking the practices learned in Gaga and using them in a full-fledged performance.
"You're training your body like a tool, one tool with many different inputs," says Hytting. "You know how to push yourself and experience more." In this pushing and experiencing, the dancers aren't just learning about their own bodies, but each other's. In addition to Hytting, OCD Love features Gon Biran, Mariko Kakizaki, Keren Lurie Perdes, Doug Lethern, and Leo Lerus. "What we share between us when we're dancing, when we're expressing, it's sewing us all a little bit closer all the time," says Hytting. "You get exposed to each other so it makes a closeness that is special. It is necessary, we believe in it, so we dare to open to it."
Hytting praises OCD's choreography, saying that Eyal brings her own level of intimacy to the movements. Eyal, is of course, the force behind the performance. Says Hytting, "Everything comes from Sharon, and Gaga is the tool for finding the inspiration. It's about the access to find it inside of your body." Hyal bases OCD Love on a poem that meant something to her.
The poem, is "OCD," by Neil Hilborn: I asked her out six times in thirty seconds. She said yes after the third one, but none of them felt right so I had to keep going.
Eyal was immediately drawn to this text, "I couldn't stop reading it. For me it was already choreography, or a mold you can put your inspiration in, yourself in."
"It's a little bit without rules," says Hytting of OCD Love. "For example, if someone sees a ballet, there is a format, there is something strict. We can be super strict but it's in such a way, you can take it much further, it's almost like a distortion, it's broken apart and we move in this space."
The dancing is vaguely reminiscent of ballet, perhaps mixed in with some salsa and break dancing; in a video excerpt of the performance you see two male dancers moving both with and against one another, strangely and sensually. Opposites certainly do attract in OCD Love, with Hytting using antithetical examples to describe the performance.
"There is something very strong and vulnerable at the same time. It feels like it is newborn and old at the same time. Something fresh, something far in memory, that you may be re-experiencing. Familiar and unfamiliar," she says. The dichotomy works, possibly because of OCD's soundtrack, pulsating techno music from DJ Ori Lichtick, who performs live. And it seems to work in places all over the world.
"Even if you go to different countries, there is some sort of connection between them," says Hytting of audience reaction. "It's usually a place where people are open for something new or different; it's something connecting audiences between countries."
There will be an L-E-V master class on Sat. June 3 at noon. Learn more at spoletousa.org.