Written by Talia Baruch
Dance debut: May 2021. Video Trailer.
Choreographer & Artistic Director: Noa Wertheim
Assistant Choreographer: Rina Wertheim-Koren
Original Music: Itamar Doari (composed & recorded in real-time at the studio)
Stage Design: Zohar Shoef
Styling: Rosie Canaan
Lighting Design: Dani Fishof-Magenta
Company Manager: Sandra Brown
Photography: Dan Ashuach
Enter the P-A-R-D-E-S ( פ-ר-ד-ס "orchard" in Hebrew). Four curious characters press you in, slow stumbling steps, to the darkness of Paradise, inviting you to bite the forbidden fruit.
The word originates in ancient Persian and literally means “a garden of trees.”
Pardes symbolizes the mystic, the subconscious, the world within. In Judaism, this word is also an acronym representing the four pillars in understanding biblical scripts: Pshat (literal meaning), Remez (implied), Drash (interpretive); and Sod (secret). The Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) tells the tale of four men entering the Pardes. One loses his mind, one loses his faith, one loses his life, and Rabbi Akiva—who comes out enlightened on the other side.
For me, פרדס is a personal, weighted word. It gently takes my hand and walks me into the orchard behind my childhood home in Neve Sharet. Its four letters wrap me with the scent of grapefruits, pungent. Damp soil saturated with winter’s early rain. Crows fluttering above the treetops. Eucalyptus branches rattling in the wind.
The Pardes is the puncturing memory of my mum before she passed. We’re sitting there together in silence. My brother slicing open a grapefruit from the tree, squeezing it into a cup. Its bittersweet sour taste on the tongue. Its acid burn in my mum’s empty stomach, the first drop of food offering she accepts in weeks. The peace. The sorrow. The profound gratitude of sharing that quiet moment; the punching pain of losing her.
The dancers enter. Heavy black fabric ruffles as they move, slicing the air. Fingertips snapping, bare feet tapping, giant shadows hanging on the walls, intimidating. Intimate small strokes illuminate big motions.
They’ve stepped into the darkness of the Pardes. And in its stillness, the pulse of tapping feet is now muted, in constant muted motion.
In darkness you stumble into light. In the turmoil of the external world, you curb inward to find balance. In the fear of losing stability, you fall, unfailing, just reaching the end of your triumph.
We meet again at midnight in the Pardes when mum reappears in a dream. I can’t see her, but her presence is so very there among the trees. She gracefully hovers close, our hands join, and in a flash, our feet sweep us off the ground in the smoothest, most fluid slowmo swivel.
There’s stillness in movement. There’s calm in chaos. There’s light in darkness, stability in stumbling, elevation in gravity’s pull, clarity in delusion.
We hold each other, weightless, and dance as one, in the safe silence of the Pardes, our Paradise.