Batsheva’s Japanese bathtub

Ohad Naharin’s ‘Furo’ is presented as a recurring piece, allowing audiences to come and go as they please.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
March 8, 2012 11:21
3 minute read.
Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Dance Company 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Batsheva Dance Company certainly knows how to throw a party. That is, they are experts in creating those special events that everyone wants to be part of. Usually, these soirees take the form of dance performances in their deluxe studios or at a variety of theaters in Israel and farther afield. Though watching Batsheva is similar to watching other companies, there is always an added bonus. It’s as if the gorgeous Batsheva performers produce a trail of alluring smoke that beckons dance lovers, drawing them into a fabulous net of images and movement.

This month, Ohad Naharin and his associates will bring back an old favorite of the company’s, Furo, which premiered in Stockholm in 2006 and was unveiled in Israel four years ago.

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It is an unusual sort of show even for a troupe as unconventional as Batsheva. Unlike most of Naharin’s pieces, Furo is presented as an installation, allowing audiences to come and go as they please.

Furo’s resurrection is part of the celebration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Israel.

Other events in this framework include the presentation of choreographer Haruka Ueda’s Rokujo at the Suzanne Dellal Center and a host of activities in Tokyo hosted by the Israeli Embassy.

Furo is 45 minutes long and is performed by two dancers at a time.

The work is performed in its entirety five times each evening. Crowds are welcome to come and go as they please, watching from five minutes to three hours. At the end of each loop, the performers are replaced by two new ones. The experience of watching the piece depends greatly on the couple on stage; therefore, it is recommended to stay for more than one rotation.

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In making Furo, which means “bathtub” in Japanese, Naharin called on Japanese animation artist Tabaimo to collaborate with him. On a trip to New York, Naharin came across Tabaimo’s work Japanese Bath House and was blown away. Months later, the two embarked on a joint artistic mission. While Furo is clearly a work of Naharin’s, bearing many telltale marks of his handiwork, Tabaimo’s influence on the atmosphere and content of the piece is immense. Throughout the piece, Tabaimo’s images create an illustrious backdrop for the live performance going on. While the connection between the two elements is not always obvious, the video element is both refreshing and deeply engaging.

For Furo, Naharin employed three local fashion designers – Mirit Weinstock, Sasson Kedem and Alla Eisenberg. Their task was to find a visually connective thread between his dance sequences and the three video screens. Each designer approached this work from a different angle, creating a variety of looks for the dancers. It was essential to Naharin that the dancers appear as real people, not as ballerinas, thus many of the clothes look like garments that could be purchased at Urban Outfitters.

For a large portion of the piece, the dancers are positioned on two pedestals at the front of the stage.

Moving between pedestrian moments and fierce choreography, Furo allows the audience to zoom in on each performer. Whether they are standing stark still, lip-syncing to a raunchy track by Peaches or grooving to a ska track, the dancers maintain their ground as gatekeepers to the world of Furo.

Depending on when you enter, there is a varying number of brightly colored buckets on the floor.

However, at key moments, the dancers enter the center of the space to pick up and lay out the objects, thus communicating with Tabaimo’s storyline.

Unpredictable as they are, there is no telling when Batsheva will present Furo again. The piece will run for 12 days at the Suzanne Dellal Center’s Studio Varda.

Furo will run from March 15-26. For more information, visit www.batsheva.co.il.

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