By Martha Sherman
Copyright © 2009 by Martha Sherman
Sans music, yes; silent, no. Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat makes dance that has deep musical sensibility with or without a soundtrack. The New York premiere of “Winter Variations” for the Lincoln Center Festival began with a score that was less music than sound wallpaper. In a long segment danced to an industrial hum segueing into the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”, two dancers, Gat and Roy Assaf, introduced themselves, individuals sharing a hauntingly lit space as if each were alone. Gat’s long powerful arms danced in a whiplike movement encircling and reversing around his body. The two dancers combined undulating movement with sharpness, and incorporated every part of their strikingly beautiful bodies. Heads, necks, backs, the low haunches of their squatting thighs and calves joined arms, legs, torsos, and feet in a corporeal celebration.
This piece, a second-generation duet for Gat and Roy Assaf, was also credited as created by both. It grew from the relationship they had forged over five years performing Gat’s shorter, Bessie-award winning duet “Winter Voyage”, his breakthrough piece from 2004. At this point, their partnership looks forged in steel. Each moves with an almost abrasive independence – until they turn and face one another, or move into perfect parallel moves, or one carries the other in a powerful squat, one body molded on top of the other.