Hitting the bulls-eye with ‘Arrowed’

Bobbi Jene Smith presents "Arrowed" at the Suzanne Dellal Center, a project she has committed to making her life’s work.

‘ARROWED’ by choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith 370 (photo credit: Dean Avisar)
‘ARROWED’ by choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith 370
(photo credit: Dean Avisar)
If you have seen Batsheva Dance Company in the past few years, the name Bobbi Jene Smith will be most likely sound familiar. That is because it is literally impossible to miss her in the company’s performances.
Smith’s charisma is a rare thing. Her blend of feminine lure, precise movement and physical beauty set her apart from the rest of the (incredibly attractive and talented) cast.
As it turns out, Smith’s gifts extend far beyond the ability to interpret Ohad Naharin’s choreography. Apart from on stage, Smith has been seen in Eytan Fox’s film Yossi. As it turns out, Smith is also a promising choreographer/director.
Tonight, she will present Arrowed at the Suzanne Dellal Center, a project that Smith has committed to making her life’s work.
“I want to do Arrowed forever,” she said in a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post.
Smith speaks clearly and slowly, often pausing to find the right word.
Arrowed officially began in the summer of 2010 as part of the Batsheva dancer’s creation showcase. It began as an attempt to create a different kind of dance piece. “I wanted to create a dance without any movement,” said Smith. “I was very interested in conversation and how it changes so quickly.”
Arrowed functions as an interview between two performers.
The original version was written by Smith and was performed as a 10-minute piece.
Since then, a revolving cast including fellow Batsheva dancer Tom Wein, American actor Oscar Isaac, Shamel Pitts and now Michal Sayfan, has performed Arrowed. “I have performed the woman’s part and the man’s part. I have switched the cast several times and I plan to present versions with two men and two women.
I think I will continue with this piece until I am old and that in some way it will document my death,” Smith continued.
As the piece grows in momentum and in length, the dialogue thickens and changes.
The original text is still there, bolstered by new additions.
“The hardest thing about continuing with this piece is listening to how it needs to change.”
Though she often relinquishes her role to other performers, Smith finds great pleasure in performing Arrowed. “The best thing about performing this piece is seeing how Shamel and I grow old together. The piece is a common meeting place for us, a place that we’ve been before.” As a spectator, Arrowed allows Smith to meet herself time and again. “When I watch it, I am reminded of memories, of things I have forgotten and will forget.”
Smith was born and raised in Iowa. She left home to study at the Julliard School, where she spent three years in the dance department. It was there that she met Ohad Naharin, who was teaching at the college.
Smith and Naharin immediately hit it off, prompting Smith to leave Julliard and relocate to Tel Aviv. In the eight years since she joined Batsheva, Smith has danced in works by Naharin and Sharon Eyal.
Last year, she followed Eyal to Sweden as part of Eyal’s new company L.E.V. After a few months in frosty Goteborg, Smith returned to Batsheva.
“It’s been amazing to come back,” she said. “It’s better than ever. When I left, I left with every part of myself and when I came back I came back with every part of myself.”
Dancing for Naharin has helped Smith to discover her own creative voice, she explained. “The more I listen to Ohad, the more I am able to listen to myself. The more total I can be in the one, the more total I am in the other. Being in Batsheva creates a lot of freedom in my head.” Smith’s hope is to one day perform Arrowed with Naharin.
For Smith, Arrowed marks a big step towards one of her many goals, to eradicate the gap between her life on and off stage.