Review: Batsheva Dance Company's HORA

The title of the piece refers to a popular Israeli folk dance, associated originally with early Zionist settlers, who paved roads by day and danced their hearts out all night.

February 27, 2018 21:39
1 minute read.
Dancers from the Batsheva Dance Company

THE DANCERS are clad in simple black outfits and surrounded by fluorescent green walls and lighting – lending the stage an eerie, otherworldly ambience.. (photo credit: ASCAF AVRAHAM)

Choreographer Ohad Naharin returns to HORA, a piece he originally created in 2009. It’s not the first work he has revisited, retouched and calibrated anew.

As a result, HORA (revisited) maintained its essence, perhaps with sharper edges and more precision. In retrospect, one can see that the original version opened the way for later works, such as Sadeh21 and Naharin’s masterpiece, Last Work.

The title of the piece refers to a popular Israeli folk dance, associated originally with early Zionist settlers, who paved roads by day, danced their hearts out all night and shared the dream of a new, progressive society.

Yet, HORA is the product of an era which reveres individuality, singularity, and appreciates the chance to explore inner sensations, the pleasure of being attuned to them. Exploring somatic options while constantly sharpening awareness.

The opening scene is perhaps one of the more striking ultra-styled statements Naharin has created.

Eleven dancers, clad in simple black outfits, sit on a long wood bench, surrounded by fluorescent green walls and lighting which give an eerie, otherworldly ambiance. The austere space belies the familiarity of the minimalist set. With mathematical accuracy, the group moves forward ritualistically. Entering a darkened zone, one can only see their silhouettes.

They freeze. Their left hands rise up diagonally as their palms point downwards, like beaks.

This striking beauty is reached with minimal effort and the simplest of composition, yet takes the breath away.

HORA is a dance of contradictions; the order in chaotic situations, the interplay between long lines and spiral motions, between tight fists and bird-wing wrists. It finds the indivisible structure of a unison and deconstructs it to pieces, which settle in new formation like particles in a kaleidoscope.

Structure-wise, HORA is a well calculated accumulation of contrasting layers of energy, from strong group formation to solos and duets. Sizable power derives from the intricate soundtrack, edited and designed by Maxim Waratt (O. Naharin), who used music from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars for bravura, next to Debussy, Wagner, Grieg and more.

The more intimate moments revealed particularly strong cadre of female dancers in tonight’s cast, unmatched yet by most male dancers.

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