TAL-An Award Winning Dance-Theater
TAL is a movement-based play in which Tal Levy Cohen tells her story of battling and recovering from bulimia against a backdrop of dance. At first, Cohen's movement is repetitive and cyclical. She is traveling through the chaotic and stifling experience her four-year-old self had when her parents divorced. She speaks about becoming "a good girl, an entertainer," and "a container for the feelings of others." In her dance, she pushes and pulls, rolls from side to side, then covers her mouth and repeats a "time out" motion. The requirement of having to grow up too quickly due to her parent's divorce and the toll it took on her emotionally and physically stunts her growth as she tries to be what they need, pushing her to cry for a time out, to retake control.
The quest for control plays out in the middle of the show. In one of the most beautiful sequences of movements, Cohen spreads her arms like wings, and the undulation of her shoulder muscles seems symbolic of both her straining against her challenges and ultimately breaking free. Cohen talks about finding healing and a path forward through Expressive Arts Therapies. As she walks, sings, reads, studies, makes art of many kinds, and continues developing her dance and movement, to "get the soul out of her body" and protest political and social norms that entrap young women, her dance becomes more powerful. It's as if she is trying to push something clingy off her arms and legs and move beyond it. At this point, the movement is so clear that the spoken part is unnecessary. The industrial music tracks and Cohen's choreography convey exactly what she wants to convey, and nothing additional is needed.
At the end of the show, Cohen has assembled a rope swing festooned with flowers from the metal tracks and wooden seat she sits and dances on at the show's start. The dismantling and reframing of these structures symbolize her dismantling of harmful notions of self and what she should be and the shift to a free and gentle perspective. Cohen on the swing is a picture of freedom and worth the effort of reassembling the scenery. Still, at times the layers of dance, music, dialogue and reconstruction are a bit too much. The speaking parts could be cut without losing the piece's meaning.
"TAL – An Award Winning Dance-Theater"
Written, performed, and directed by Tal Levy Cohen
March 16, 2023
The Spring 2023 United Solo Festival
March 7th - March 26th, 2023
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
STEPHANIE EAGAN is a professional writer based in NJ. A fan of every type of live performance imaginable, from taiko drumming to political performance art, she travels the tri-state area and beyond in search of music, art, theater, and excellent coffee.