Tadmor and Piorun performed two duets at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University, Los Angeles on September 26, 2015. It was a great pleasure to watch these two professionals dance and the chemistry between them is rich.

Ido Tadmor is the artistic director of the well-known Israel Ballet, and the recipient of the Landau Award for Lifetime Achievement. He performed with Bat Sheva from 1985 to 1990 and in 1995 established the Ido Tadmor Dance Group. His achievements range from concert dance to television to fashion where he designed a clothing line for the famous Israeli fashion brand “Chaos”.

Elwira Piorun is a long-term dancer of the Teatr Wielki/Polish National Opera in Warsaw, and has been a soloist of this theatre since 1987. She studied at the Warsaw Music Academy and has had main roles in such plays as Giselle, Fortepianissimo and Nienasycenie (Insatiablility).

Rust, choreographed by Rachel Erdos and Ido Tadmor, opens with a DVD/TV monitor playing an animated short film.  The monitor was so small that during the duet, if one tried to focus in on what was going on, the dance and the dancers got lost.  There was dialogue, so I made the choice to listen to that and concentrate on the performance.  Fortunately, the film ended and, for this viewer, the dance finally began.  Rust shows us a man and a woman who cannot manage to make their relationship work and actually the two dancers never physically touch.  They come close; even face to face with only a hair’s breadth between them during an exchange of audible kisses that begins lovingly and ends just short of becoming sadistic.  This push and pull between the two permeates the piece, but Piorun has a wonderful few minutes where she pulls our attention away from Tadmor and dances with a Persian rug. She transform it into an evening gown, a hiding place and much more.

Brief moments of unison were seen in Rust.  They were beautifully constructed where the duo moved together for part of the same phrase before separating into different movements again.  This helped to accent the theme of these two people only getting close to becoming a pair. The music of Frank and Nancy Sinatra singing “Something Stupid” enhances the fact that the relationship between this man and woman onstage never gets consummated.

The second duet was titled Engagé was choreographed by Tadmor and although at times it was a much tenderer duet, the same theme of the man asking his mate to come closer and then pushing her away was prominent.  There were beautiful moments of embrace, only to be shattered by the man’s fear of commitment or allowing himself to openly express his emotions. Piorun’s character came close to striking back or leaving, but she never managed to get the courage to take charge of her individuality. The male chauvinism or male supremacy prevailed once again. 

One of the elements that I loved about Engagé was that the majority of it was performed in silence.  One could hear the dancers’ feet or their bodies hitting the floor and the intensity of the work came through the movement, not the music, sound score or, as in Rust, a film. The music that there was, by Newman, Verdi, Ferre and Chopin, came near the end of the piece and ran over into the curtain call.

Although this performance was not stellar, it was extremely well done and, most of all, magnificently performed.  Unfortunately the audience was embarrassingly small because the Luckman Fine Arts Complex failed to promote it properly, a trait that seems to have developed with this institution.  The Luckman seats 1, 152 patrons and I’m guessing that there were maybe 150 in the audience.  That might be a generous estimate, actually. I found out about this concert from a former student of mine who lives in Israel, not by any promotion from the Luckman staff.  This is not a way to run a business or to build up a dance audience. It is definitely not fair to the artists who have to perform before such a small audience; even as generous and welcoming as this audience was with their applause.

The performance was followed by a Question and Answer period during which Tadmor and Piorun were extremely gracious with their responses to some very naïve questions.

Photo Credit: Gadi Dagon

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Jeff Slayton
Jeff Slayton has had a long and influential career as a dancer, choreographer, and educator. Born in Virginia in 1945, Slayton began dancing as a child in order to correct his condition of hip dysplasia. He enjoyed a performance career in New York dancing for Merce Cunningham, Viola Farber and others. In 1978 he moved to Long Beach, CA. where began teaching at California State University, Long Beach as a part time faculty member. He became a full time faculty member in 1986 and continued to teach at CSULB until 1999. Jeff Slayton was one of the faculty members that helped design the Dance Center at CSULB as well as develop and implement the BFA, MFA and MA degree programs. While in Long Beach, he formed his own company, Jeff Slayton & Dancers, that operated from 1978 to 1983. He continues to stage works in the Southern California area. He is also the author of two books, "The Prickly Rose: A Biography of Viola Farber" and "Dancing Toward Sanity". For more information on Jeff Slayton please go to www.jeffslayton.org.

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