Salomé: Woman of Valor


Dates and Venue Thursday, March 8, 2018, 8pm | Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street

Creators Adeen Karasick & Frank London Director Alexandra Aron Lighting Design Elizabeth Mak & Nicole Lang Costume Design Johanna Pan Choreography Rebecca Margolick, Jesse Zaritt & Jody Sperling Video Design Elizabeth Mak Stage Manager Nicole Lang Musicians Frank London - trumpet, Shai Bachar - keyboards, Deep Singh - percussion

Reviewer John Jane

Salomé: Woman of Valor is a spectacularly unique, sixty-minute spoken-word opera that incorporates: interpretative dance, poetry, evocative avant-garde music and multi-media.

There was perhaps a curious irony in going to see Salomé: Woman of Valor on International Women’s Day. After all, Salomé was a significant female first century character. The “Woman of Valor” part of the title appears to be in contradiction to conventional Christian teaching. The daughter of Herodias, and by default King Herod Antipas’s step-daughter, hardly lived up to the Hebrew meaning of her name (a derivation of the Hebrew word shalom which means peace).

Richard Strauss’ single-act opera Salome is, of course, famous for the Dance of the Seven Veils performed by Salomé for Herod and his guests, which may have made her the first known burlesque artist. Neither the Christian Bible nor noted Jewish historian Josephus offers any mentions of such a dance or for that matter any viable connection between Salomé and John the Baptist.

Co-creators Adeen Karasick & Frank London don’t let history, or rather lack of it in this case, stand in the way of their story from a “Jewish, feminist perspective.” Karasick’s Salomé is a warrior princess. She is complex, something like Zenobia, but more seductive and with better proprioception skills.

Karasick, a professor of humanities and London, a virtuoso jazz musician proffer anomalous hypothesis. Were Salomé and Yochanan (John the Baptist) sexually attracted to each other? Did Yochanan ask Salomé to martyr him?

Dancers Rebecca Margolick and Jesse Zaritt perform the roles of Salomé and Yochanan respectively. Dancing as a pair they are mesmerizing. In their solo choreography, Zaritt is charismatic, Margolick is electrifying. Margolick’s showpiece entitled Battle Dance at the end, choreographed by Jody Sperling, was spellbinding.

Karasick’s didactic disquisition, delivered in English, Hebrew and Yiddish wasn’t always easy to follow. However, the musicians, always visible onstage, were mind-blowing. Elizabeth Mak’s dramatic lighting and video design provided an extra dimension without distracting from the performances.

© 2018 John Jane