Israel in 2019

Using beloved Israeli songs mixed with pops of death metal, Naharin weaves optimism and nostalgia together with harsh, jarring realities.

Israel in 2019 (photo credit: ASKAF)
Israel in 2019
(photo credit: ASKAF)
For many artists, years are not defined by their number but rather by the creation they saw come to light. Time-lines are replaced by portfolios and progression marked not in days and weeks but in showings, performances, premieres.
 As such, it is perhaps fitting that rather than give his newest work a title, Ohad Naharin chose to call his latest creation by the year in which it was made. Premiering during the final days of the year, 2019 has trapped the essence, flow and spirit of Batsheva Dance Company into a choreographic time capsule, which will forever represent the exact zeitgeist of the now.
2019 was created for Studio Varda, the second-floor hall of Batsheva Dance Company’s building in the Suzanne Dellal Center. Industrial designer Gadi Tzachor crafted a set that helps to generate the sensation of being hermetically sealed inside a controlled space.
One-part fashion runway and one-part proscenium, the narrow stage is flanked by audience members on two sides. The halves of the crowd are able to observe one another as they take in the choreography. It is within this arena that Naharin leads his audience on a journey that sails along the waters of reality with occasional plunges into the abstract.
Fans of Naharin’s and Batsheva Dance Company will recognize the tell-tale movement language, Gaga, and the calmly aloof approach of the dancers however, in 2019, Naharin’s reflections on Israeli society are hardly, if at all, masked. In previous works, such as Last Work and Venezuela, Naharin exposed glimpses of disdain for the occupation and for the deteriorating state of Israeli politics. In interviews he said it outright. And in 2019, Naharin makes little effort to hide or blur the blatant and critical observations about the society in which he lives and works. It is out there, plain for the audience to see and to internalize.
Using beloved Israeli songs mixed with pops of death metal, Naharin weaves optimism and nostalgia together with harsh, jarring realities. The dancers, women dressed in glittering cocktail attire and high-heel boots, men in mesh tops and loud prints, place 2019 in a surreal nightclub where chaos peters out into exhaustion.
In a reference to Hanoch Levin’s You and Me and the Next War, Naharin points at the need for idealized patriotism against a backdrop of impending doom.
2019 was created by Naharin and Nakamura, who also designed the costumes, with the assistance of former company member and choreographer Ariel Cohen. The undulating soundtrack was arranged by Maxim Waratt and mastered by Nadav Barnea.
Batsheva Dance Company will perform 2019 at the Suzanne Dellal Center throughout the month of December. For more information, visit