Batsheva – The Young Ensemble.
(photo credit: PR)
Batsheva Dance Company showcased Adam (human being), by guest choreographer Roi Assaf, and Yag, a revival of a 20-year-old creation of Ohad Naharin’s.
There are some similarities between the two pieces, some motifs and moods that resonate with shared observations of human traits.
Assaf, a former disciple of Emanuel Gat, recently started to make a name for himself on international stages. His piece opens as 11 dancers enter separately, each naming aloud various parts of their bodies; nose, eyelashes, heels, etc., while they touch them or move them. Their recitation, fluent or disrupted, is the main soundtrack, alternating between sections of a delicate piano rendition of Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque.
Roi focuses on the material body, laying the ground for deeper investigation into human behavior. Studying human interactions, he wondered how much liberty people take with regard to others’ bodies and territory. His grim reflection recalled the famous installation by visual artist Marina Abramovic, who allowed viewers to touch her with various objects.
What started hesitantly soon became abusive, even violent. Similar acceleration happened here, on a milder scale. Gentle touches of an uncooperative partner led to pawing and bold objectification of the other, mainly females. A voice recites a sentence: “Imagine a human being. It could be anyone. If you could touch him once, where would you touch?” One can hardly stay indifferent. Assaf’s reflective creation leaves a mark that may take a while to fade.
Obsession and dysfunctional human behavior are also part of Yag. For a change it’s not an abstract creation, but the deconstructive story of a family of three generations. Each relay the fragmented memory of their history. Naharin constructed Yag with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, and although the family members often act disturbed or out of touch, we get familiar with their weird, disharmonious handling of their reality and family ties.
All six dancers recite the story from their own point of view. Out of the blue comes the icing on the cake, as the voice of little girl stumbling to read her story of how she loves to eat sour food, including peeled lemons, pickles and sauerkraut, yet everyone told her that she is sweet – and she is. And so is the work, though it feels a bit dated. Yet its sweet, funny ending may keep it afloat.