Dance Review: Batsheva Dance Company, 'Project 5'

Ohad Naharin’s 'Project 5,' originally created for five female dancers about a year ago, gets a comeback with a change of gender.

February 1, 2010 21:05
1 minute read.
batsheva dance 88

batsheva dance 88. (photo credit: )

Batsheva Dance Company
Project 5 (male and female versions)
Suzanne Dellal, Tel Aviv
January 28

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5, originally created for five female dancers about a year ago, gets a comeback with a change of gender.

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A few eyebrows were raised at the urgent need for a new rendition so soon after the original’s debut. There can be several reasons for a choreographer to revisit previous work and switch the gender of a high-profile role created for his principal dancer, as Maurice Bejart did, for instance, with his renowned Bolero. This action alone was powerful enough to bring about a dramatic change in the way the dance’s character is newly perceived.

Naharin is certainly aware of this act, since he already tried it in the past. Long before he became artistic director of Batsheva 20 years ago, he choreographed Black Milk for a female cast of the Kibbutz Dance Company. Years later he dusted it off and prepared it for an all-male cast at Batsheva. With new, striking Japanese-style black skirts and bare tops, bold lighting and a noticeable boost of dynamics, it became a refreshed product with great appeal.

In an amusing twist of events, Project 5 – the original female version – composed of segments taken out of Zalman, Moshe and Black Milk, marked the return of Black Milk to the ladies.

Presuming that the motive to give Project 5 a makeover is purely artistic – disregarding the pragmatic incentive to comply with a quota in order to be eligible for government support – one is bound to compare the two.

It was easy to reach the main conclusion that a finely tuned, sophisticated work such as Project 5 – particularly its first three sections, which are stylistically cohesive and maintain unique rhythmical phrasing and intensity – is effective, regardless of gender changes.

On this particular evening, the male group faired better by comparison, showing an execution finesse lacking from the all-female rendition I saw a year ago.

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