Dancing for the Damaged by Ana Harmon

*photo by Dan Ben Ari

The opening scene of Anat Oz’s Introtention Coda finds two bare-legged women, Anat Oz herself and Shani Licht, on all fours in a perpendicular structure, which hides both of their faces; however our eyes are immediately drawn to one woman’s peachy bottom, peering out towards us to the tune of the Minkus’ Don Quixote’s Grand Pas de Deux.

Oz and Licht reenact Petipa-esque scenes, however, unveiled, exposed, and damaged, challenging the refined and well-behaved trope of classical ballet. Oz continues to ‘punk out’ the ‘pink’ throughout this 30-minute piece, and her world begins to both darken and become more sincere.
Both dancers are beautifully trained technicians, though they’ve refurbished their tools toward some greater cause: they reclaim their sensuality and sensitivity through satirical displays of grandiose gestures interwoven with explosive finesse, disturbed delicacy, and punchy monologues. Oz, a real triple threat (choreographer, dancer, writer, and more) boastfully instructs her apprentice how to achieve impossible tasks in one rapid fire satirical monologue as the all-knowing choreographer, which later repeats itself in a whisper. “Yes, someone is itching you from the outside and you’re enjoying it.” Oz’s work seems to be dealing with the fallout of this unfair request.

The word-filled weapons drawn at dancers from choreographers (and parents, educators, etc.) can leave lasting scars, and Oz’s work seems to offer us with a much needed antidote of self-realization, feminine power and prowess. A dancer would likely find Oz’s work therapeutic as she reclaims the space and fires back, also granting Licht that same opportunity, even though she is the ‘dancer’.

While the opening scene of Introtention Coda hid Oz and Licht’s faces, the final scene gives us the opportunity to stare deeply into their eyes, and perhaps even glimpse into their souls for a second. The women go head to head exploding into movement one by one, before being magnetically drawn back towards the other. Ultimately, the piece ends with Oz and Licht standing cheek to cheek, with their eyes closed. Perhaps it is time to listen.