CATHARSES critic by Michael Svennevig / by Israel Aloni

A translation to English of the full critic, originally written in Danish by Michael Svennevig after CATHARSES performance at Teaterøen in Copenhagen on the 17th of September 2017.

Through the dark, one can hear something rustling. At first, the sound seems to come from behind the audience, but then from the stage, where something is rolling in from the back. This is seen through the darkness as an indefinite mass, and only when the lights slowly go up does it becomes clear that there are two distinct plasma-like globes rolling in. Two creatures turn and twist before they eventually escape - and are born. Soon after, they are on their feet as creatures exploring themselves and each other. It's a man and a woman. Both wear long thin black tights and a loose-hanging robes, open in the back. It's not typical dance costumes, and the same go for their movements They move towards each other with increasing speed. Like magnets, always looking for each other, but never coming together. As if they are searching for and rejecting each other at the same time. Some of the movements are fast and abrupt. Others slow and sliding, often in direct temporal contrast to the music, which emphasizes the unresolved tension between them. They are together and yet always separate.

The title of the work, "Catharses", is the plural of the Greek word of cleansing, and used the first time by Aristotle in "The Poetics" from ca. 325 B.C., where de defines tragedy and its effect on the audience. 

ilDance is based in Sweden. The choreographer, Israel Aloni, was born and raised in Israel, then moved to Sweden where together with Lee Brummer he formed ilDance. In an earlier piece called “Forbidden Fruit”, Aloni explored human sexuality a nd then in “Catharses” focused on the female and its significance. The piece resonates with disarming poetic cruelty and powerful allusions to Pina Bausch´ "Le Sacre du Printemp". 

It was danced wonderfully by the two dancers: Lærke Appelon & Lukas Pzytarsky. All urges and desires to beatify and entertain were removed. What remains is only a pure desire and the courage to seek and perhaps find a more sincere expression. 

Even though the dancers take off their clothe, they never appeare to be totally naked covered as they were in mud. Just as in Bausch’ 'Le Sacre du Printemps', which takes place in soil and mud (which I watched at the Paris Opera a couple of years ago), it reminded us of our first parents, Adam and Eve, as they rose up from the earth with the curiosity to explore the new world that surrounds them - or rather "the first world". 

I strongly feel that we observed a birth, a rare moment of creation. Something that makes theater the space we come back to again and again for just such moments, to experience wonders and to see into ourselves and our own lives. Such moments justify why we keep on returning, because we might be lucky enough to experience it again - and as the first bite of the apple of wisdom, we are able to understand how everything is connected.


It felt as if I was seeing contemporary dance for the first time, as if it were a brand new fresh language. Both Appelon and Pzytarsky danced with a secret they never gave away. It was hard not to be captivated. There were no barriers, the work flowed directly to the audience in a delightful fusion of sound and motion. I could have watched them all night - much longer than the 40 minutes it lasted. 


Link to original text in Danish:


Link to information about CATHARSES