Batsheva’s ‘altneu’ season

Last week, amid friends, family and reporters galore, Batsheva unveiled its program for the 2013-2014 season.

MEMBERS OF Batsheva Dance Company 370 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
MEMBERS OF Batsheva Dance Company 370
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
Last week, amid friends, family and reporters galore, Batsheva unveiled its program for the 2013-2014 season.
As this year marks the 49th season of the renowned troupe, artistic director Ohad Naharin and general director Dina Eldor decided to take a deep breath with this program before the ensuing celebrations.
For the past many seasons, Batsheva has presented a new work. Last year, Naharin created The Hole, a new work for the company performed in Varda Studio. The year before, Naharin released Sadeh 21, which will tour extensively abroad in the coming months. Prior to the closing of the 2012- 2013 season, the ensemble performed Uprising/Shula, a two-part program by choreographers (and ex-Batsheva dancers) Hofesh Shechter and Daniel Agami.
But this year there will be no premiers, no groundbreaking set design and no shocking new development in the company’s movement language, Gaga. Instead, Naharin and his team will take a good look back at the works that have brought the company into the international limelight it now enjoys.
Perhaps the most exciting of the restagings that will take place in the coming months is Naharin’s Virus. A stark, elegant piece, Virus has been on the shelf for nearly a decade. The piece premiered in 2001 in Israel and went on to tour throughout the world, racking up prizes such as the prestigious 2003 Bessie Award.
The piece is an interpretation of Austrian writer Peter Handke’s play Offending the Audience. As the curtain opens, a large black wall is revealed. Atop this wall stands a lone, suit-clad man with a microphone.
Over the course of the piece, the dancers scrawl out messages in chalk on the wall as the orator lectures the audience on their current state as spectators to the scene.
Though Virus has not been performed in many years, it stands out as one of Naharin’s most clever, biting and profound works.
Other works to be revived include Three (2005) and Max (2007). Both of these pieces are danced by small casts, setting them apart from the larger, more spectacular works of Naharin’s. In both Three and Max Naharin seemed to let down his guard a bit, offering a softer, more intimate side of his inner world. Also to be performed this season is Naharin’s seminal work Mamootot.
In the sunbathed Varda Studio at the Suzanne Dellal Center last week, the current casts of the Batsheva Company and the Batsheva Ensemble performed segments from the repertoire to be presented this year in Israel. Many of the faces were familiar, such as those of Bobbi Smith, Adi Zlatin and Shamel Pitts.
One surprise was the presence of former ensemble member Ariel Cohen in the main company. Cohen left the ensemble several years ago to pursue a career abroad. With his return to Israel, Cohen unleashed his choreographic talent on Tel Aviv with The Contract and Battle for the 21st Century’s Love among others. His return to Batsheva began as the costume designer for Sadeh 21. This season, he will bring his charisma back to the Batsheva stage as dancer.For more information about Batsheva, visit