Dance review: Batsheva Dance Company at the Israel Festival

The work became a meeting ground for two clashing, even contradicting practices and perceptions of dance.

The Batsheva Dance Company (photo credit: PR)
The Batsheva Dance Company
(photo credit: PR)
The Israel Festival hosted the meeting of the established Batsheva Dance Company with its unique approach to dance based on Gaga, a discipline created by the company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.
Naharin enjoys a worldwide reputation as one of the leading voices on the contemporary dance scene. Two years ago he saw work by the young and talented Marlene Monteiro Freitas, an upcoming Capo Verde-born choreographer, now residing in Lisbon. Freitas drew a lot of attention to her singular, somewhat wild creations, and Naharin invited her to work with Batsheva on an original creation.
The work – “Canine Jaunatre 3” – became a meeting ground for two clashing, even contradicting practices and perceptions of dance, and it was anybody’s guess how it would work on stage. Could the company, so set and proud within its legacy, embrace new ideas? Freitas must have worked hard to urge Batsheva dancers to let their bodies adapt to her ideas, and one could see that the dancers gave it their all, and followed Freitas’s somewhat unusual motions verging on the bizarre, while enjoying different channels of release and freedom, and it must have opened them up to new ways of perceiving their world and questioning presumptions, consequently changing them.
Freitas is attracted to mind games, and in this work the participants shed their true individuality and become mechanical particles in a game, in a puzzle, where they cannot assert control and are stripped of feelings and active thoughts. They are there to follow a plan. They know what to do and how, but are blind to the “why.” They are similar to humans, except they are simplistic replicas that almost look like humans, but each move or step they take belies this assumption.
Their mechanical-like movements, gestures and facial expressions are erratic and sharp and highly stylized in a warped way.
Freitas toys with the idea of parallel universe that she created. Nothing is what it seems to be. She goes for masking thoughts, emotions and reality in exchange for their reflections in crooked lenses. She has produced an unconventional spectacle with its own sense of aesthetics and interesting craftsmanship, yet lacking an invigorating effect. It remains somewhat detached.