The stage is an orange box, with three simple long benches pushed against the walls. A dancer enters in silence, barefoot, dressed in a dark tunic with a collar that stands up at the neck and a bulbous skirt resembling petals of a flower. Other dancers arrive, men and women dressed alike. They take a seat, two to a bench. I imagine a Shaker gathering, austere and pensive. As the house lights go down and the music rises, the performers stand and take up a ritualistic stepping from side to side in unison. The flicking and scraping of bare feet against the floor is audible, forming a rhythm that will recur throughout the hour long “Pardes,” in this premiere performance by Israel based Vertigo Dance Company. The repetitive sway of hips as the dancers shift weight from one foot to the other is hypnotic—and a little threatening.
Etai Peri and dancers of Vertigo Dance Company in “Pardes” by Noa Wertheim. Photograph by Maria Baranova