R.O.S.E is a collaboration between Israeli artists Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, and London-based record company Young, who have curated a playlist of new music for the event – with club culture icon Ben UFO deejaying throughout.
R.O.S.E is essentially a club night (or day rave, as I opted for the Sunday 4 pm performance), interspersed with club-inspired performances from Paris-based dance company L-E-V. Award-winning choreographer Sharon Eyal and her artistic director and long-term collaborator Gai Behar are the co-founders of L-E-V. Behar is a veteran of the Tel Aviv club scene, and Eyal’s choreography appears to be in part inspired by club culture.
Let’s set the scene: we’re in a dark club, and at times, you can hardly see a thing. There’s smoke and incense. Ben UFO is deejaying, his bass pulsating New Century Hall’s bouncy dance floor and the spectator’s bodies. Then, out of nowhere, materialise these spirits of the night… or club creatures, or whatever else you might interpret them to be. Dressed in nude-coloured body stockings, which even covers their heads, with blood-red tears pouring from their eyes, they are hauntingly beautiful.
They take over the dance floor, and the clubbers are relegated to spectators. Sometimes they operate in the centre of the dance floor, other times to the side, with the audience circling around them. Occasionally they appear on the steps, where audience members like myself stand in hopes of getting a better view. You never know where they might go but you have to be prepared to make way, for they will go where the beat commands – and you will follow.
Their movements offer a series of contradictions: effortlessly complex, quietly commanding, beautifully creepy, relaxed but fierce, alien yet human, and so on. They move and bend their bodies in ways that appear unnatural to us but ordinary to them.
The creatures make several appearances throughout the event, appearing out of nowhere and then scurrying away, back to the crevices of the club they crawled out of.
It feels very much like a club cult. I went from “Is this a cult?” to “This is a cult” to “Am I in the cult?” to “I think I’m in the cult” to “I’M IN THE F*CKING CULT” by the time the epic finale arrived.
R.O.S.E is a real spectacle – at least when you can see it. Performing on a club floor means only those at the front or those on the steps can see what’s going on. Whilst the steps offer a decent view, this is not the case when the dancers perform on the steps. When the performers appear at the top of the steps, only those at the top can see what’s happening; they block the view of the hundreds behind them.
Whilst this creates a feeling of suspense (the creatures move around like mice, the clubbers only able to catch glimpses of them), it means we miss out on the performance – the reason we’re there. Sometimes you’re forced to watch the performance through a phone screen.
But even when you can’t see the creatures, or when they are hiding away, you feel very much a part of the action. Even those intent on merely being spectators will soon turn into clubbers. The rhythm is contagious. As Gloria Estefan warned, “the rhythm is gonna get you” – and it won’t let you go until the creatures are done with you.
R.O.S.E is a slow burn over the course of two hours, with a fabulous finale that cathartically celebrates club culture. Like Find Your Eyes, which finished a mere hour before R.O.S.E began, it is one of the most unique pieces of theatre that I have ever experienced.
It’s a cult you’ll be sad to escape.