Girlanda: A string of dances

Girlanda will string together five separate worlds. No one voice will stand out or shine brighter than the others.

Nadav Zelner and Mor Bashan - work by Noa Eshkol (photo credit: SHIRI BRITE)
Nadav Zelner and Mor Bashan - work by Noa Eshkol
(photo credit: SHIRI BRITE)
In Hebrew, a girlanda is a string of lights, the type you would typically find decorating a Christmas tree. In such a fixture, no one light takes the focus; rather, the sum of each small bulb creates a warm, twinkly affect.
This kind of diffuse warmth is what Gili Navot, artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company, had in mind when curating the Batsheva Ensemble’s new evening. Comprised of five independent creations by six Israeli artists, the evening Girlanda will string together five separate worlds. No one voice will stand out or shine brighter than the others. The triumph of the evening will be in the continuum created by the juxtaposition of the works, one beside the other.
“I was thinking about the next process that the young company would do,” explained Navot in her serene, white office. “We often do what we are familiar with but I thought, why not introduce the dancers to a bigger group of choreographers, artists who are young or who have not worked with Batsheva in the past? The dancers in the young company aren’t here for very long, so I thought it would be nice to put them in touch with what is going on in the scene surrounding the company.”
Navot, 39, wears a plush off-white sweatshirt and sips tea. An established dancer, choreographer and mother of three, Navot took up the reins of Batsheva last year after her predecessor, Ohad Naharin, stepped down from the role. Navot was perhaps not the most obvious choice for the position but, as time passes, it is clear that she was the precisely right one.
Her thoughts encompass not only the artistic directive of the internationally acclaimed troupe but the well-being of the nearly 40 dancers employed by the main and young companies combined. After spending several years as a company member, she has intimate knowledge of the rigors dancing for such an in-demand group. This new evening is one indication of her desire to enrich the lives of her audience and her employees at once.
“I started to think about who I would like to invite to work with us,” she said. “I made a very long list and eventually arrived at five choreographers. I knew that each one would bring their own world that would be different and meaningful for the dancers. That is not to say that these are the best five choreographers in Israel, there are so many artists that I love and connect to. But, when looking at the collection of this evening, they created something very diverse and right.”
The choreographers are Nava Frankel, Talia Beck, Noa Zuk, Ohad Fishof, Nadav Zelner and Mor Bashan staging a work by Noa Eshkol. Navot refers to the program as “an evening without blackouts” and by that she means that the curtain will not go down between works; rather, like a string of lights, they will be joined by a connective thread.
Assisting this are costumes by Anna Mirkin, lighting by Bambi and a simple set, shared by all the works. Each individual work is no longer than 15 minutes.
Over the weeks of rehearsal, Navot peeked in on her dancers and was happy to find them swimming in unknown waters.
“Suddenly, in the middle of the season, the dancers are in unfamiliar territory. It is challenging for them but in a good way, and I believe it will affect them in anything they go on to do from now on. It’s like going abroad or visiting someone else’s home. You eat the food and smell the smells and you take those experiences home with you,” she explained.
‘Girlanda’ will be performed on March 12-14, 16, 19-21, 23, 25 and 29 and in April. For more information, visit