creating for Batsheva and other top companies, such as Hubbard
Street Dance Chicago, NDT II and Carte Blanche.
With its hypnotic dancers, raw movement and evocative music by
longtime collaborator Ori Lichtik, L-E-V has quickly become an in-
demand company with nonstop global touring and producers from
prestigious venues in half a dozen countries lining up in support.
The international presence fits well for a company without a home.
Though Eyal and Behar are based in Tel Aviv, their dancers, who
hail from Israel, Sweden, Canada, Guadeloupe, Japan and the United
States, are widely dispersed. “We’re based in the world,” Eyal says.
The company rehearses in local studios before performances on tour,
and creates work during extended residencies in various locations,
such as Canada’s Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
In the New York studio, L-E-V is rehearsing OCD Love, a
shadowy, sensual work that is the first creation by Eyal and Behar
for their own company. (Lev means “heart” in Hebrew, and much of
Eyal’s work is a celebration and deconstruction of relationships and
Mariko Kakizaki begins with a slow but vigorous solo, her
muscles trembling with tension and her face contorted in something
between ecstasy and fear. Then Darren Devaney enters slowly,
strumming an imaginary mandolin with a detached stare. Neither
holds back any energy or emotion, which Eyal notes with approval as
she follows them across the studio nodding, and quietly giving notes
to her assistant. Behar films the dancers on his phone.
Eyal says she looks for dancers who are “precise and pure and
technically extreme” but also, “I really love individuals and emotions
and people giving something above the choreography.” What’s remarkable about the troupe, most of whom were members of Batsheva
or the Batsheva Ensemble, is how effortlessly they project a cohesive
collective while each maintaining a captivating sense of self. During
the rehearsal, they all watch intensely, transfixed by their colleagues.
“I love you people,” Eyal says during a rare calm moment in the run-
The close-knit nature of the group aside, such rapid success comes
with an inevitable learning curve. But Eyal and Behar prefer not to
dwell on the day-to-day challenges of running a company. “You just
need to be strong, to believe in yourself,” says Behar. “The most basic
clichés are true.” Having already realized their dream to create their
own work, on their own dancers, in their own way, the founders of
L-E-V are just excited to dive deeper. The new dream? “To continue
to do what we love,” says Eyal. Next up: a continued exploration of
some of OCD Love’s themes and style, called Love Chapter 2. n
Brian Schaefer writes about dance for The New York Times and other
“You feel she’s
putting her demons
and fantasies in it.”
Eyal (below) and
Gai Behar are also
romantic partners and
have two children.