Ohad Naharin debuts new piece

'Hora' is an intimate work that distills whatever makes us human.

modern dance 88 248 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
modern dance 88 248
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon)
On a bare, young, grass-green space, 11 black-clad dancers move through Ohad Naharin's Hora, his new work for Batsheva Dance. Everybody knows what a hora is, right? The simple circle dance we all learned once... But no. In Hebrew, the word could also be read to mean "parent" (horeh). "In Cyprus, they don't know what a hora is. In Spanish, it mean 'hour,' in Swedish 'whore,'" says Naharin, smiling just a little. "I like the word, the sound of it, but the connotations in the word and the work are not the point. The principal idea is what they lead to; accumulations of all kinds that have gained increasing importance as the work progressed." At first Naharin created movement for each dancer during individual sessions. A month later, the company rehearsed together, and so Hora began to grow. There's no story. The dancers, and there are two casts, begin seated on a bench at the rear of the stage from which they rise and to which they return throughout the increasingly intricate, intimate work that seems a rarified distillation of whatever makes us human. Originally Naharin had conceived the piece set to metronomic bleats, beeps, grunts and other electronic sounds. Now the dancers move to Mussorgsky, Debussy, Ives, Strauss and some of those bleeps, all played by Japanese synthesizer master Isao Tomita. Hora is dedicated to Naharin's mother Tzufiya, who turns 80 this year. It premieres May 18 and 19 at the Jerusalem Theater. Hora will also travel to New York's Lincoln Center International Arts Festival and the Montpellier Dance Festival in France, both of which are coproducers.