The Botany Of Desire / Talia Beck
Performers/Creators Ido Batash, Michal Sayfan, Ariel Freedman, Yochai Ginaton
Stage Design, Objects and Projections Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum
Music Gai Sherf
Light Design Tamar Orr
Production Avital Barak
Photography Gadi Dagon
In The Botany of Desire, Talia Beck invites us to imagine what would it be like to live a life outdoors. This work is not about the wilderness. Think, rather, of the rhythmic sounds of the neighbor raking leaves from a driveway; or a barely overheard conversation between lovers sitting in garden chairs. What would it be like to spend years under the open skies of a backyard?
The four dancers on the stage have their domestic fights and their sex outside, that is where they fall in love, and that is where they experience sorrow and grow older. At one point, a woman fastens two white birds to her collar and her hair. During the sleepless night that follows they stay on her body, while her motions start to resemble those of a nocturnal animal. Morning explodes with the shining backdrop of blooming flowers, garden bells ring at the distance, and she is no longer alone.
The piece is organized around a cycle of day and night, and one of solitary moments and moments of intimacy with a partner or a friend. As it continues, this cycle unfolds into an oblique narrative, which appears to be their shared life story. A dramatic moment in this narrative occurs when one of the dancers walks slowly onto the stage, a small house resting on the fabric of her dress behind her. Light shines from inside this model, once again suggesting nighttime. But now the house transforms the entire stage. From the intimate yard it turns into a vast landscape, and the fabric is rolling hills, which the viewer now experiences from great distance, and from a different time.
A second poignant moment in this narrative happens towards the end of the piece, when the dancers decorate one of the two men with a paper crown. The strange ceremony is enigmatically bittersweet. Its beauty is reflected in the irregular line that scissors make in paper. This line seems to suggest that the dancers are reenacting a birthday party only barely remembered from childhood.
Botany of Desire develops Beck’s idiosyncratic language of motion, sound, material, and color. Together with designers Michal Tzenderbaum and Noam Dover, she leads us into a sophisticated environment of treetops and blades of grass, allowing us to rethink some of what happens in our lives around them.
Text by Itamar Mann