I didn’t get the chickens. At the end of Arkadi Zaides’ Quiet, which had its second and final performance at this year’s Dancing on the Edge Festival last night at the Firehall, three of the four male dancers remove what look like cardboard cutouts of chicken heads—each attached to a wooden strut—from the set designed by Tel Aviv graffiti artist Klone. They then proceed to menace the fourth dancer with them, "pecking" at him with the cutouts as he withdraws inside himself, or scurries across the floor.
One is left struggling with how to interpret the image, especially in a piece that up until that point had traded fairly literally (and at times didactically) in the physical representation of conflict, aggression, mistrust, violence, and the sundry “emergency states” (both internal and external) that have come to characterize the co-dependent relationship between Palestinians and Israelis that is at the heart of Zaides’ work. The intensity of movement displayed by the dancers in Quiet came through loud and clear, and was never less than compelling. And yet I can’t say that, overall, I was very moved by the piece.
And I find that just as perplexing as the meaning of the chickens.