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L.E.N.

Adva Zakai: How to spell a piece

Two women enter the empty white stage touched lightly by a soft light. Both of them wear quite similar jeans, one of them in a red shirt (Shila Anaraki) and the other one in greenish-yellow pastel (Adva Zakai). They lead themselves downstage. Shila, in the pose of a dog or a cat, produces the mechanical sound of elbows dropping onto the stage. Left. Right. Again up. Left. Right…again up… following the rhythm of Adva’s “lyric floor washing” - as I’ll call it now - is there any other way of interpreting, “spelling”, a body that is sitting on legs, stooping forwards and making wind-like movements with her bare arms? Le-e-eft. Ri-i-ight. Le-e-eft. Ri-i-ight.

Then Adva starts talking. “I am a woman who follows a strict routine,” she says. In this moment the “floor washing” image is strengthened by the picture of a hard-working housewife, and the verbally articulated meaning adds to this connotation, just as it adds to Shila’s lethargic slumping. “I am a rigid person”, “I am always on top”, “I clean all day”, “and I have a dog”… The text is circulating from sentence to sentence, starts again and again (probably three times) from the very beginning and fills up the “story” with new and repeated equivocal details: for example, how does it taste to make love with Napoleon, with Marilyn Monroe, or… with a ghost, while the motions are almost the same, still.

It’s hardly possible to find the exact moment when Shila leaves the floor, when she takes over the role of story-teller and creates a new flow of movements with heart-shaped hands, then lies on the floor (not to be on “top”). But now it is finally clear that they are completing the “story” on a new frequency, and at least from one point of view we are discovering why the title is “How to spell a piece”. Spelling means cutting the word into pieces and putting its sounds together again with the help of a different expression. Whether we want it to or not, it produces a context, in this case a strangely humorous one - or at least some moments make us laugh. But this kind of DADA-ism can easily become a nicely articulated Labyrinth of Efforts for Nothing.

The moment when they re-play the full package of movements is remarkable - coloured by all the previous thoughts and words and connotations in our minds - they actually start dancing to Sam Brown’s hit-song. As they state: a “pop-version” of “How to spell a piece”. Of course everybody has memories of the Disco Age… so as a reference it works perfectly; the seemingly pathos-ridden housewife monologue is now given fresh blood (although we have to wait until for it).
These acts can be just another “dada” in our imaginary vocabulary but also the building stones of content. They are neither more nor less significant than the ghost-scene when Adva and Shila play out the “teen-horror” moment when a rigid housewife’s lover comes home as a ghost-figure, and the dog grabs the leg of this frightening creature. And there is even a certain moment when the two girls start their own conspiratorial winking to each other whilst their speech also shades the previous movements with conspiratorial childishness or erotic overtones (spellings). We now get the feeling we are witnessing both the working-process and its result. All the clichés of hidden sexual fantasies through (pop)horror to Bambi’s mother under the night sky line up next to the image of a busy housewife cleaning. But still the movements are the same.

During a country song the two performers imitate cowboys as they walk to leave the stage (and another – Tarantino-style - cliché), and a question arises: how do you spell a piece if we have got a big mass of “letters” in a smartly structured well-performed piece, but without a code or a recipe. Cocoa, sugar, milk and flour on a table is not yet a chocolate cake in L.E.N.

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