Vertigo Dance Company of Israel opened the 81st season of the American Dance Festival with U.S. premiere “Vertigo 20.” Choreographer and Artistic Director Noa Wertheim connected dances from the company’s past 20 years to create a single surreal moving memory book. I’d never seen any of the earlier works that fed into “Vertigo 20” but the history became clear in its parts and as a unified whole. Changes in mood, style and music gave the feel of sitting with a friend flipping through her old photos of various meaningful experiences. It was peaceful, intense, humorous, and quietly emotional, like a day spent in an attic with a dusty beam of light bringing memories to life.
Stage curtains were removed baring the wings and light fixtures and replaced with a three-walled archive where shelved dances were unshelved. The set was immediately captivating, and the slow movement of the first two dancers suspenseful. Their perfectly matched movements were those of top-level athletes.
As the moods and music changed, dancers made entrances and exits and were shelved and unshelved. All of the twelve dancers moved with disciplined athleticism. They sometimes danced on a different floor, several feet above the floor we can see. They jumped straight up and pushed a flexed foot downward, stopping on the invisible floor. A dancer rolled horizontally, like a roll down a hill, but on the invisible floor, and with no abrupt landing, just a smooth transition to a full run. At several points I became so absorbed in these arresting movements that my leg involuntarily moved as if I had become part of the dance.
“Vertigo 20” was perfection. The blackness of the bare stage, the starkness of the lighting, the greyness of the shelf-lined walls, and the assortment in style and shade of black and white attire combined in visual harmony with the depth of color captured on black and white film.