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Le Monde, Rosita Boisseau | 29 September 2023

“Reflections" by Adi Boutrous at the Théâtre des Abesses takes us on a journey through the history of humanity.

The Israeli dancer's show, inspired by Renaissance paintings, is a fascinating procession of bodies in constant motion.


Bare and unadorned. The latest work by Israeli choreographer Adi Boutrous, Reflections, reveals itself to be transparent and carnal, relying solely on the work of the body to draw us in. On Monday 25th September at the Théâtre des Abbesses in Paris, a glow of clear, unadulterated beauty captured the eyes of the audience and left them spellbound.


33-year-old Adi Boutrous, spotted for his dynamic, acrobatic drive, has slowed down and taken a breather for his fourth performance in this venue since 2019. With clothes of different shades of colour for the five performers, he takes his inspiration from Renaissance paintings such as Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son, Girodet's Scene of the Flood and Fra Angelico's The Annunciation. While it's obviously not a question of recognising one work or another, they seem to act like ectoplasms emitting waves. One gesture after another, one dancer then a second, naked: the slow accumulation on which the piece is based takes on its rhythm. The sculptural figures gradually become more complex as they rise up through the sheer magic of two women and three men.


An uninterrupted frieze of images


This very physical and continuous to-and-fro, between erection and collapse, assembly and disintegration, is based on a wooden bed that becomes a frame, a stretcher, a cross or a coffin. The driving force behind this unusual procession is that of transformation. Always moving, always connected, the performers activate an uninterrupted frieze of images whose metamorphosis give the impression of composing a single piece of modelling clay. The thousand and one ways they connect to each other, by the nape of the neck, the ankle, the back, the shoulder, arching over and under each other, fusing together, fascinate. The portés are reinvented in bizarre combinations which unravel in a trail of bodies before revealing themselves to be tangled up in a different way a few steps further on, with no sign of how the choreography will unfold.


Adi Boutrous dances on the edge of identity


Shrouded in spirituality, this procession unleashes a soothing humanism. The heart of the show lies in touching others, supporting them, feeling their weight, caring for them, cementing together a solid chain where tension rhymes with attention and contact with trust. Adi Boutrous, who started out in gymnastics and breakdance at the age of 10 in his hometown of Beersheba, in southern Israel, and who has a deep affinity for intertwined dance, displays his gestural fibre in a completely new light. Tel Aviv-based Adi Boutrous, who starred in Hillel Kogan's bestseller We Love Arabs, is a member of Israel's Arab minority and a Christian. He made a name for himself in France with Submission, two conflicting male-female duets. In Reflections, his thirteenth piece since his debut in 2013, he reaffirms his faith in dance through silence, breathing and music, including two pieces by Bach.

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