So the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company will be greeted at Northrop Wednesday night (the troupe was also here in 1995 and 2004) with protests by pro-Palestinian groups, just as it’s experienced elsewhere on its current U.S. tour, with protests also planned for the Vancouver engagement.
The issue isn’t the program’s content. The troupe will perform “Shalosh,” a 70-minute work for 17 dancers with three sections: “Bellus” (“beauty”), “Humus” (“earth”) and “Seus” (either “this” or “not this”). The music includes selections by Brian Eno and the Beach Boys, as well as J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations.
The choreographic style is kinetic and abstract. The dancers’ sleekly muscular physicality comes from “Gaga,” a movement language devised by Ohad Naharin,Batsheva’s artistic director and choreographer. And excerpts indicate the performance could tap into states of being, emotions and relationships that aren’t bounded by geo-political borders, but are innately human, and thus universal.
For a preview go here.
Funded by Israeli government
The protests stem from Batsheva’s funding by the Israeli government, its perceived role as one of Israel’s cultural ambassadors, and a tour occurring in the midst of Israel’s on-and-off air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip. Point taken.
But there’s still the question of the art. Naharin reportedly opposes the violence, and claims his work transcends political, ethnic and religious content. Fine. Is it good dance?
Naharin has become something of a superstar in the dance world since taking over Batsheva in 1990. The troupe was founded in 1964 by the Baroness Batsheva De Rothschild and Martha Graham, and until 1990 dedicated to Graham’s mythic, rigorously expressive dances.
Choreographer employs intense physicality
Naharin’s movement vocabulary also acquires its power through intense physicality, but the dancers move with a tensile strength and holistic flexibility that emanates from a more contemporary attitude toward the body and its awareness in space. On the Youtube videos, the movement is astringent, fluid and clear, which portends a sensibility of emotional intelligence and whipsmart integrity.
We’ll see whether “Shalosh” is a performance worth cheering, instead of protesting.
Start the evening with “A Conversation About Batsheva” in Northrop’s Studio 4 from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Speakers include Walker Art Center performing-arts curator Philip Bither (Walker is co-presenting Batsheva), Northrop Director Ben Johnson and dance scholar Judith Brin Ingber.
“Shalosh.” Batsheva Dance Company. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18. Northrop Auditorium. 84 Church Street, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. $18-$55. 612-624-2345.