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DANCE REVIEW

Mini-dramas and intense physicality

BECKET -- It is an interesting experience to witness a dance that has no plot, no political message, and no conventional grace or beauty, yet is so full of raw emotion and vivid movement it sustains your interest for a full hour.

That is the case with Club Guy & Roni's " The Language of Walls," performed at Jacob's Pillow Thursday night in the Dutch company's first US appearance. (One might give it other titles, perhaps "Six Women in Search of a Narrative," or "Hourlong Cat Fight.")

This was rough dancing, and emotionally honest choreography by Roni Haver and Guy Weizman that, as with anything really good, plays itself over in one's head long after it's done.

Club Guy & Roni is a five-year-old ensemble founded by Haver and Weizman when they moved to Groningen, the Netherlands, from Tel Aviv. It is one of the Pillow's offerings in the season-long festival of Dutch arts at Berkshire venues this summer.

In "Walls," you won't find a bit of tenderness, romance, sexuality, or cooperative work . The doors to this world are shut, and the six women locked in it repeat subtle (and not so subtle) forms of violence on themselves and one another. In two - to five-minute episodes, the tone changes from dark to light to dark again.

The opening presents a single figure in repetitive motion, as if dodging gunfire or a whip, suggesting a political message: Abuse? War? Not so fast: The scene dissolves to a karaoke club where the women mock the singer and steal her blond wig. Then they're cheering one another on, like break dancers on the street, in frantic solo and group turns. A large cupboard opens for an amazing series of position shifts by dancers caught in its lighted spaces, studies of claustrophobia. A single dancer does a five-minute spastic tour de force, teetering and falling, at once hilarious and touching -- like Chaplin, only darker. Enter two dancers whose hair is tied together, Siamese twins who separate violently.

Throughout, the music by Elad Cohen creates a sense of enclosure with its mixture of industrial droning, wind pipes, and live drumming, endlessly recycling. Occasional outbreaks of voiced sound -- song, shouts, or screams -- add to the sense that this is as much drama as dance. Yet nothing goes over the top. You know these people, you've lived these situations.

The piece could use trimming, as some of the segments don't work as well as others. At one point, dancers squeeze ketchup tubes on their wrists. OK, now it's mock-suicides? But the idea is dropped before it gets anywhere.

Still, the freshness of the vocabulary (angular, athletic, with hints of ballet and Martha Graham), the dancers' theatrical intensity (every one has a distinct body and attitude), and their virtuosity make this an amazing, disturbing, and thoroughly welcome arri- val.

'Related'

Club Guy & Roni

At: Jacob's Pillow, Thursday (through tomorrow)

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