A fast ticking rhythm counteracts the slow, hyperextended movements of a solo dancer. Her back to the audience she moves with creeping extensions, her articulate body creating enticing distortions. Eventually a man enters and parades in circles around her, the statuesque stillness of his slow walks the antidote to her rippling, insect-like contortions.
As is the case with much of the movement in “OCD Love,” this scenario continues for longer than is comfortable. This tendency could be construed as a reflection of the inspiration behind the piece, a text entitled OCD by poet Neil Hilborn. The resulting dance work marks the Sadler’s Wells debut for former Batsheva Dance Company dancer and choreographer Sharon Eyal, and collaborator Gai Behar, the artistic force behind Israeli collective L-E-V. “OCD Love” explores the idea of a love that never quite co-operates, littered by the ticks and repetitive drive of OCD.
The Israeli contemporary style can be seen in Eyal’s movement language, characteristics that have become recognisable from companies like Batsheva and Hofesh Shechter. The dancer’s scurrying, pulsating movements, their convulsing torsos, the impossibly deep pliés and distorted extensions. Eyal crafts these movements into an intriguing language that is at once astounding and absurd. While each of the six dancers in this company are incredible movers, Eyal’s style has a way of making their great facility and muscularity appear grotesque. It’s absorbing to watch.
Fabulously surreal images are scattered throughout—there’s a moment when the rest of the company enter, carrying one dancer like a battering ram between them. Repeatedly she is used to poke the solo female in her hip. It leads to a duet that ends with a jab in the eyes.
The soundtrack, mixed live by Israeli underground DJ Ori Lichtik, morphs from percussion to club-style dance beats, with film score worthy moments thrown in. Dressed in variations on skin tight black leotards, their bodies pulsating to the techno beat, the dancers, and this piece, feel irresistibly hip.
Yet despite the fascination their movement creates “OCD Love” somehow forgets to speak. There are instances of clarity—the repetitive movements that embody the necessity of OCD and a duet between two male dancers where, despite their attempts to connect, they can never quite reach each other. As they strut and mark time to the pounding beat, their bodies seem to draw in energy, before they break into movement sequences that remind you how achingly good these dancers are.
There is no denying the brilliance of these dancers and the intriguing absurdity of Eyal’s choreography, but at times we are simply drowned by the sheer quantity of dance presented to us.