Jewish Journal


November 2, 2006

Batsheva Dance Company reads between ‘Three’ dances


Ohad Naharin, choreographer of Israel's Batsheva Dance Company credits a back injury with helping him develop a new language of dance.

"I started relating to my body differently," he told the Web site culturekiosque.com in 2004. Naharin's innovations mean that for the dancers in Batsheva, sensation is more important than form, and pleasure more important than ambition, creating a direct, instantaneous experience of dance.

"You don't have to translate it," said Luc Jacobs, Batsheva's rehearsal director, in an interview with The Journal. "It's very immediate, like when you listen to music or eat food. Ohad created his own movement language to find better keys to access the abilities of dancers and we all share a collective intelligence for the way we work and the way we approach movement."

This month, the Batsheva Dance Company will be performing Naharin's "Three" at the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts. "Three" is an interlinked collection of three dances: "Bellus," "Humus" and "Seccus."

Bellus, which means beauty in Latin, explores the silence between the musical notes. Ten dancers, all dressed in urban-looking short-sleeved T-shirts or shirts and cut-off pants, move across the stage with sinewy alacrity. The music seems still at times, with the dancers' movements creating an overlying rhythm. At one point, a man and a woman dance together in a way that evokes a dialogue between them.

"Ohad is very turned on by composition, by tension between elements -- dance and music [man and woman]" Jacobs said. "The piece is very linked to music, but in many areas we also dance to the silence, or we play to the silence and the movement. The music is as much the silence as it is the actual sound -- that is what creates the gap between the notes."

"Hummus," or "earth" (not smashed chick peas), is an all-female composition, set to the music of Brian Eno. In this piece, the women move together as a troupe, with the music playing very softly in the background, almost imperceptible above the women's movement.

"In 'Hummus,' the music lives happily next to the dance, and at the same times contributes to the atmosphere that is being presented," Jacobs said.

In the final piece "Seccus" (meaning both 'this' and 'not this'), all 18 dancers of the troupe are on stage. The dancers dance individually, testing their own boundaries, while creating a fervent, energetic group composition.

"Ohad never spoon-feeds the audience," Jacobs said. "He tickles their imagination and their creative thinking -- and there are many blanks to be filled in."

Batsheva Dance Company will be performing Ohad Naharin's "Three" at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus on Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.

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