Batsheva Dance Company
Suzanne Dellal, April 17
Choreographer Ohad Naharin was invited to lead Batsheva almost a quarter of a century ago, at a time when the company was floating without a true lead.
It didn’t take him long to be noticed internationally and for the dance company to become world renowned.
Fortunately, he recently decided to air three older pieces so new audiences including a generation of new dancers can be exposed to his former classics.
The tour de force opened last week with Mamutot, (2003), a highly intensive, sensual piece, danced at the company’s studio for a limited audience, seated on benches around the square floor. This proximity makes for an exceptional, intimate experience, with Batsheva’s dancers sitting beside them, occasionally initiating eye or hand contact.
The second piece was Max (2007). Naharin likes enigmatic names and whether or not Max is short for Maxim Waratt – the pseudonym Naharin adopted a few years ago, is anyone’s guess. In this work particularly, music, gibberish lyrics and noises have a powerful impact.
Unusually, a full evening work was entrusted to the younger group, the Batsheva Ensemble, and not a spark was missing. This is not the first time the Ensemble has looked just as radiant as the older group. In fact, the opening-night cast of Max looked more sparkling than the cast – nicknamed Noodles – I saw at Mamutot last week.
Their high skills, attentiveness and sensitivity were breathtakingly brilliant. One could see it already in the opening unison scene as 10 dancers face the back wall.
Male dancers stand still, while female dancers do a deep plie, pelvis down and knees widely apart. They tilt sideways, turn and pair up. As the men go down, the women go up, like a silent vertical seesaw, with perfect timing. So structurally simple, with purity, symmetry and sincerity, yet projecting the silence you’ll find in the eye of the storm.
If we needed further proof of Naharin’s skill, the third piece in the mini-retrospective, a fist in the gut and an all-time favorite, is coming soon: Virus.
Mamutot (includes male nudity) runs April 25-26 at Suzanne Dellal, while Max and Virus will play in June and July.