Gutsy, Athletic LeeSaar Dance Explores Emotional Toll of Militarization at Mass MoCA Feb. 9

Seen above is a clip of grass and jackals-vimeo from saar harari on Vimeo.

North Adams, MA Praised by The New York Times as “a gutsy, brainy modern-dance troupe,” LeeSaar The Company challenges the boundaries of modern dance and creative theatricality. The group presents a powerful new dance work, grass and jackals, in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Friday, February 8, at 8 PM. The LeeSaar oeuvre is highly theatrical, and grass and jackals is no exception. The piece emerged from four years of research exploring how to translate the extreme conditions of military life to the stage.

Pushing the physical and emotional boundaries of both performers and viewers, grass and jackals moves from one climax to the next, featuring music that creates an atmosphere of an unknown terrain. The climaxes are alternately silent, violent, intimate, wild, lonely, and exposed, showcasing the dancers’ extraordinary performance abilities. The New Yorker praises LeeSaar’s “emotional nakedness, free-associative logic, and frank sensuality” and describes the choreography as “inventive and arresting.” An accompanying light spectacle designed by Batsheva Dance Company designer Avi Yona Bueno transports audiences into a world of shadow and light, of wilderness and home.

LeeSaar The Company. Photo: Andrea Mohin.

LeeSaar The Company. Photo: Andrea Mohin.

Choreographer Saar Harari bases his choreography in Gaga technique, a movement vocabulary created by famed Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, former artistic director of the seminal Batsheva Dance Company. Gaga technique, a fluid and intensely athletic style of dance, is based on the flow of energy through the body.

Director Lee Sher and choreographer Saar Harari founded LeeSaar in Tel Aviv in 2000. Previously, the couple served in the Israeli army, with Sher in the parachuter’s unit and Harari in the special forces. Sher began her professional performing career as a playwright and television/film actress. The company moved to the United States in 2004 after two seasons in Tel Aviv and a residency in Sydney, Australia. In 2005, Sher and Harari were awarded green cards for “extraordinary achievement in the performing arts.” Today, LeeSaar is a truly international ensemble with performers from Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, and the United States. Sher and Harari have received the Six Point Fellowship from the Foundation for Jewish Culture (2007-2009), The Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography (2008), the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2008), and a Bessie nomination for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (2012).

LeeSaar The Company performs grass and jackals in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Friday, February 8, at 8 PM. Tickets are $15 / $10 students. Members receive a 10% discount on tickets. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located off Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11 AM until 5 PM (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased online at www.massmoca.org.

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